Did you know your arms are just as important as your legs when running?
When I ask runners in my Chi Running technique workshops to focus on their current arm movement while running, more often than not they are blissfully unaware of what their arms are actually doing most of the time! Think about it for a minute! Your legs have to keep turning over to run but your arms could be doing absolutely nothing! If they are moving they may not be balanced. They might look like they are moving but its actually your shoulders rotating instead.
Give it a go and see, how are those arms working for you? If you feel that your arms mightn’t be doing their job effectively, then read on and I will give you some tips on how to find your arm swing rhythm to help take the load off your legs.
Here are some of the key elements of an efficient and effective arm swing.
First of all, start by standing tall, lengthen your spine. Imagine there is a string attached to the top of your head and it is gently pulling you up elongating your upper body. Soften your shoulders down from your ears. This should feel relaxed not rigid. Ok, now let’s focus on your arms. Bend your elbows up (90° or less). Keep the inside of your wrists facing in towards your sides. Now find your rhythm and focus on tapping your elbows back to the beat,
Tap 2, 3, 4
Tap 2, 3, 4
Don’t forget to relax your shoulders down into your elbows. You are nudging your elbows back to drive your body forward. Your arms are taking the load off my legs, they are strong, rhythmic and active. Allow your legs to feel like they are being carried along the road. You are coasting! Arms are especially important for triathletes and ultra runners to carry you along if the fatigue sets in as the miles clock up. They will get you over the finish line if you keep your elbows driving back to create elastic energy and power, like a bow and arrow. Find your running rhythm, arms, legs, breathing in sync.
This is when the magic happens!
On your next run focus solely on your arms and feel the difference it can make to your legs. It may feel strange initially but it will be worth it in the long run!
As as running technique coach I am a bit obsessed with arm movement. When I see runners out on the road and their arms are glued to their sides or swinging too low, I have to talk myself out of rolling down the window and giving drive-by coaching tips!!!
Arm swing is a key element of my running technique sessions and my running programmes. We practice standing, then running, then standing again…practice, practice, practice! Before you know it, your arms are more active, and you are moving with more fluidity and ease.