It’s fair to say that when I’m asked a question about running technique, nine times out of ten it concerns the lower body. In my experience, the importance of the upper body and specifically the arm swing is often overlooked, and it really shouldn’t be as the arm swing is an integral part of an efficient running technique.
Improving your arm swing will lead to overall performance gains, so here are four areas for you to take note of and work on during your next run:
Fix the elbows (around) the 90 degree mark
Keep your elbows fixed somewhere between 80 and 100 degrees. Make sure you’re not constantly bending and straightening your elbows as this will use up energy. Movement should be from the shoulder joint, not the elbow joint.
Keep your hands and shoulders relaxed
There can be a tendency to elevate the shoulders whilst running. This leads to unwanted tension so try to relax and keep your shoulders down. Clenched fists are also unnecessary, so try to keep your fingers loosely curled inwards with your thumbs on top (not down into the fingers). Your palms should face each other, rather than downwards.
Don’t over-rotate the torso
It’s not uncommon to see runners driving their hands too far across the body so that their torso over rotates. This leads to unwanted demands on the core and is an extremely inefficient way of running. To ensure you don’t do this imagine there’s a vertical line that runs down the middle of your body. Swing the arms back and forth so that your hands do not cross that line.
Drive back with the elbows, not forwards with the hands
A lot of runners create an arm swing by driving their hands forwards almost in a punching like manner. This however can become very tiring, so rather than focussing on driving the hands forwards, focus on driving the elbows backwards. This will feel a lot less exhausting and will encourage good posture and forward momentum.