In continuing our discussion on fitness in the new year, we present a step-by-step piece on how to stretch your body while out and about with your baby. Christine Krauth, a pre- and postnatal Pilates instructor, shows us how to achieve an all-over body stretch using simple movements.
By Christine Krauth
I recently taught a "Pilates and Running" workshop to some members of Moms Run This Town: a very cool group of gals who run. A lot. With strollers. I am also a stroller runner and I think that if you run with a stroller you are a) a rock star and b) should be given extra mileage credit: like, 3 miles with a stroller is the equivalent of 4.3 miles without.
So, with that figured out let's learn some cool stretches you can do WITH your stroller at anytime: before, during, or after your run or walk.
Lower Back and Shoulders Stretch
This first one is great for a tight lower back (lumbar spine) and tense shoulders ( 'cause you know as you are pushing that thing up a hill you are using your shoulders, girl):
- Stand with your arms long out on the stroller handle bar, your feet in a parallel position, hip width apart and in line with your knees.
- Gently lower your chin and engage your abdominal muscles (think belly button to spine!), keep your shoulders down and round over your hips extending your torso out from your hips. Try and keep your hips over your ankles.
- Get a nice lengthening in your spine by sinking your weight into the stroller bar and reaching your arms as long as you can.
- Round your spine (imagine you are a Halloween cat!) and roll up one vertebrae at a time back to your starting position.
Hips and Lower Back Stretch
The second part of the Stroller Stretches is specifically for your hips but also feels good if you feel tight in your lower back. Honestly, it feels good regardless! If you feel a little pain in your hips while you run or walk, take a moment and try this stretch:
- Stand with your feet hip width apart, hands on the stroller, feet parallel.
- Lift your right leg off the ground and cross it over your left leg (like a man would sit in a chair). Make sure your right leg crosses above the knee on top of your left quad.
- Bend your left leg watching the alignment of your knee and foot. Do not let your knee pass your ankle!
- You will feel a stretch in your gluteals and hip on the right side. Try and keep your right leg as open as possible. Count to 10 as you breath deep (slowly. sometimes it's hard to count slow if you are in the middle of a run).
- Repeat on the left side.
Calf and Hip Flexor Stretch
The third installment is a calf and hip flexor stretch. Your calf muscles induce foot flexion AND help stabilize your ankles. Your hip flexors are a group of muscles whose primary action is to lift the upper part of the leg to the body. If you are walking or running, you use your hip flexors and your calves.
- Stand with your feet parallel, hip width apart.
- Lunge your right leg forward. Remember: your knee should be directly on top of your right foot and your foot should still be parallel.
- You will feel a stretch in the hip flexors on your left leg at this point. If you want more of a stretch, try pulling your left hip forward a little. Be subtle; it won't take much.
- Lift your left heel and press into the ball of your foot.
- Lower your left heel slowly, pressing the heel into the ground. This is your calf stretch.
- Switch sides by bringing your right leg back and lunging out with your left leg.
Christine teaches Classical, Prenatal and Post Natal Pilates at ProHealth, a Physical Therapy and Pilates Studio. Christine practiced Pilates throughout the pregnancy and after the birth of her first child in 2009. She found that Pilates helped her body tremendously to adapt, support and facilitate the work of carrying and birthing her child. This revelation motivated Christine to empower other women through Pilates during their pregnancies.