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Walking comfortably with your pram

How we push a stroller can help us feel more comfortable in our bodies.

Below are some common parental complaints about body comfort while pushing a stroller coupled with my top tips on how to remedy those areas of discomfort.

 

  1. Neck and/or shoulder tension & headaches

If your shoulders are lifted around your ears, this may lead to tension in the neck, shoulders, wrists and head (hello headaches).

If your shoulders are hunching forward, this may lead to tension in the lower back, neck, shoulders and wrist areas.                                   

How to help this?

By optimising handle height and your shoulder blade position.

Handle height:

If the handle is too high, you will be inclined to lift your shoulders towards your ears while pushing the stroller.

If the handle is too low, then you will be more inclined to hunch forward.

Ideally, we want our shoulders to be in a relaxed and neutral position that is comfortable.

Shoulder blades:

Imagine you are wearing a shirt that has two front pockets on it, but you are wearing it in reverse, so the pockets are on your back. Now imagine tucking your shoulder blades towards your spine and down into the pockets on the back of your shirt. This helps create a neutral shoulder position which may help decrease tension.

What is the right handle height?

The height of the stroller handle is dictated by your shoulder position.

Ideally, you want the stroller handle at a height that allows your shoulder position to be relaxed and comfortable.

BONUS TIP:

When you are pushing a stroller up or down a hill you can utilize stroller handle height to help support your body.

HOW?

If you are pushing a stroller up a hill, then lowering the height of the handle means you aren’t reaching up more than you need to. This minimises shoulders being lifted towards the ears.

Alternatively, when you are pushing a stroller down a hill, raising the handle height means you aren’t reaching down more than you need to. This minimises the urge to roll the shoulders forward and bend at the waist.

The handle height on the Olive and Oscar stroller is often easily adjustable and designed exactly for moments like this. Easy alteration to match the biomechanical needs of the person pushing the stroller is an aspect of what I like so much about the Edwards & Co stroller range.  

 

  1. Wrist tension

With a baby there is a lot of extra carrying, rocking, burping and overall increased load on the parents’ arms and wrists. Sometimes this shows as discomfort in the wrists.

Pushing a stroller with your wrists in a bent position creates an unnecessary load on the wrists.

When pushing a stroller, attempt to keep your wrists in a neutral position. This means they are straight rather than having a bend in them.

How do you do this?

This relies on a few factors

  1. Adjust the handle height to be appropriate for you.
  2. Rotate your grip around the handle. For example, some people grip lower, forcing their wrist into a bend. Aim to grip the handle in a position that allows a neutral wrist position.

 

  1. Low back tension

It is common that when parents are pushing a stroller, especially when pushing up a hill, they will bend forward at the waist. This position is not ideal and can be improved to decrease loading on the back.

How to avoid this

  • Keep your hips in line with your shoulders and your toes, rather than pushing your hips backwards and bending forward at the waist. Keeping your hips in alignment with your body it helps you engage your core and buttock muscles; this may help to protect the lower back.
  • Engage your core to create a neutral pelvis position. This will avoid creating an accentuated low back curvature and decrease pressure in the low back.

 

  1.  Shoulder or mid-back tension

When we walk without pushing a stroller, our arms hang by our sides and have a natural swing to them, this helps move the mid-back and can reduce mid-back tension.

How to avoid mid-back tension:

It can be helpful now and again (when it is safe), to take one hand off the stroller handle and let it swing by your body for a few steps, then alternate sides.

The new Olive Double Stroller and Oscar both have adjustable handles that will allow you to tailor your pram to meet your body’s needs and keep you comfortable.

 

That’s it for now, I hope you enjoyed the above and found it useful!

 

Written by Ainslee Roughan, Chiropractor, child motor development & parent educator. 

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