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Posted on Jul 18, 2019 to Public

Are you arms your worst enemy when you run? If you haven't been taught correctly, then probably yes. When we start running we want to be moving forward as efficiently as possible. We want to be running with everything facing and moving forward. 

If I had a pound for every runner I saw basically hurting themselves with every arm swing I would be a wealthy man. Sadly, even some runners that have had my tuition still run with a debilitating arm swing. Why? Because bad habits are hard to break and it's easier to carry on how you are then practice the change. 

Every run you go out on should be a training session. Just don't focus on speed and distance. I very rarely hear runners at the end of a run say, that was a great run, I focused on technique, posture, and a breathing exercise. Nope, they're more focused on how fast and how far. Basically the same run they have been doing for weeks.

I don't want to go into distance and speed in this article, but the chances are you will start to get niggly injuries pretty quickly training only on speed and distance, and not technique and posture. Having said that if arms are used properly they will propel you forward and give you good run times and distance. Used incorrectly, they will put the brakes on with every step you take and could leave you in a world of hurt. 

'Arm efficiency' 

You arms should go backwards till they reach their natural point of recoil. On the forward movement your elbows should not come in front of your torso and be as wide as your body frame. Your hands should be around the same height as your hips. 

The "only time" your elbows should ever come in front of your torso is when you push up hills. Again your arms should still be as wide as your body frame. This will keep your lungs open and make breathing easier. 

'Arm don'ts and why'

Your arms and legs are connected. When your arms are moving correctly with a nice recoil movement and your elbows aren't coming right out the front of your torso, your legs will follow suit. You will find it easy to land your feet correctly and also keep a quick cadence. When you over use your arms and the elbows come in front of your torso you will tend to over stride, heel strike and your cadence will slow right down. Your arms will then tend to cross in front of your body. This is when it becomes a massive no, no. This is when things start to go wrong. This is when injuries will start to raise their ugly heads. 


OK let's get down to it. When your arms cross in front of your chest you are basically reducing the capacity of your lungs, so making it harder to breath. With your arms swinging across your chest your shoulders that should be relaxed and facing forward will now start to rotate inwards. This momentum will then start to rotate the hips inwards (causing hip injuries), in turn rotating the knees and ankles inward (causing the dreaded runners knee injury). Basically a whole catalog of running injuries waiting to happen. Now if this wasn't bad enough, you are also putting the breaks on your movement with every step. Instead of a flowing forward momentum you are stopping this by swinging everything side to side. This will make your run harder, breathing harder, pushing longer distances harder, or even worse, stop you running through injuries for good. 

'Arms Check List'

Hands waist height ✔️

Arms / hands body frame wide ✔️

Relaxed shoulders facing forward ✔️

Arms swing back to natural recoil, not forward ✔️

Elbows never come in front of torso (except on upward hills) ✔️

Constantly put this check list into practice on your runs. Especially when you get tired. It's when we get tired that our form and posture starts to suffer. 

This arm technique can be applied to power walking also. It will change your game..........

~ fit247 personal training

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