This is the 5th entry in our series on Running Form (Excerpts from my book "Second Wind: the running coach you never had but always needed") and details information on our arms.
You are an object in motion. As such, you want
every part of your body to be moving in the same
It might sound obvious, but consider your
what do you do with your arms when you run?
Have you ever really paid attention?
A huge number of people swing their arms across their body
(right hand swinging towards the left hip or even left
shoulder and vice versa).
Every movement across your body is wasted and creating directional energy
contrary to your goal: straight ahead.
So think of it like bowling. When you attempt to bowl a straight
ball, your arm has to go straight back and return
straight forward or else the ball, when thrown, will
veer off to one side or the other. Same concept,
only we’re talking about the energy and direction of
Since for every action there has to be an
equal and opposite reaction, for every bit of energy
you expend moving your arms to the side instead of
straight ahead, your body has to then also counter
that wasted energy (by wasting even more) to keep
your body aligned correctly.
Also on arms, even if you are moving them straight
back and straight forward, you can still be expending
valuable energy unnecessarily.
You want your arms to be loose and relaxed - your hands as well.
If you are clinching your fists, that’s costing you energy.
If you are rigidly swinging your arms in large arcs,
that’s costing you energy that you could be using
more efficiently elsewhere (like your legs).
Keep your hands open and loose, let your arms almost
flop, straight ahead, straight back, just enough to
assist in kinetic energy.
*Note: If you are holding to much energy in your arms
(clinching your fists, holding your shoulders or elbows tight)
this will cause your back to be sore after running! If you are
suffering from soreness in your back/shoulder blades - loosen up!
Finally, always focus on using small motions; you are
not a locomotive and, as such, you do not want to be
“pumping” your arms! Relaxation is the key.
The less energy you expend on all the “other” stuff, the
more your body has available for the essential
muscles utilized in running (heart, hamstrings,
quadriceps, and calves, ).