Earlier as my husband was running on the treadmill I was watching his form. One thing about him he is has impeccable form. I am jealous of it and often find myself wishing I could make running look as easy as he does.
He has often told me that I am a “stiff” runner and I haven’t yet learned how to relax during my run. You notice this most in my shoulders and arms when I am running.
I’ve been so focused on how I land (which is more important for avoiding injury) that I hadn’t even really paid attention to how I hold my arms while running.
The past couple runs I have paid more attention to my form as a whole.
Here are some tips for how you should be holding your arms while running:
1. You Want Your Arms at a 90 Degree Angle.
This goes along with #4 in a lot of ways, but the basic idea is you don’t want your hands coming too far up or dropping too far down. If you think about keeping your arms at a 90 degree angle it helps to avoid this.
2. Don’t Overthink It
This is my problem. As soon as someone tells me I need to work on something I non-stop think about it. The best thing you can do when focusing on your arm swing is to let it happen naturally, don’t overthink it.
3. Relax your Fingertips
You don’t want to have your hands balled up in fists or straight. The key to your hands is to relax your fingertips almost like you are holding an egg. This will allow your hands to relax.
4. Your Arms Should Never Cross your Midline
As I mentioned in #1 you never want your arms to cross your midline. If your arms are crossing your midline you are swinging them too much. The more you swing your arms the more energy you use, therefor you are not being as efficient of a runner.
5. Focus on Pushing Your Elbows Back
If you put your focus on pushing your elbows back then your arms will swing forward more naturally. This will allow you to avoid over-swinging your arms.
Let your body relax. We are often so tense (at least I am) when I run that I don’t allow my shoulders and upper body to relax. I’ve been told many times if you watch me run I look stressed or tense, and that is the exact opposite of how I feel. Let your body do it’s natural swing, and you’ll be surprised how much it helps your running.
The key with arm swing is that the more efficient you are with it the less energy it takes out of you. If you are doing a 3-4 mile run this may not matter much, but when it comes to a marathon or race day you want to conserve as much energy as you possibly can.
Arm movement also helps you when you are tired or trying to go faster. Instead of trying to alter your stride when you are trying to go faster or are tired – try increasing the speed of your arms. This will actually help you in going quicker.
Here is a great video to watch about arm movement:
Do you ever pay attention to your arm swing?
Have you ever had anyone observe your form? This has actually really helped me because so often we don’t see the mistakes we are making.
I haven’t put much thought into my arm form, but this totally reminded me of when I was in ballet and one of us (not sure who) was just not getting the correct arm movement to leg movement and the teacher was like “Well you wouldn’t walk moving the same leg as arm” And then proceeded to walk right foot swayed out real far and swaying out the right arm and then repeated the same thing with her left side for like 10 steps. It was hilarious at the time.
Haha I bet that was hilarious!
We don’t think of form often, but it’s been something I have really focused on recently after my injury.
I used to keep my arms low, and could never figure out why my shoulders would get so tired during 5k’s or VO2 Max tests, until one day I saw a video of a VO2 max test and it dawned on me.
More effort is needed to swing arms that are hanging low, thus the sore shoulders during fast running. I’ve seen become accustomed to keeping my arms up and tight, unless running all out they make short chopping movements.
That is a good point! The other day I was running and trying to get myself to relax but my arms felt so tired. I think it was due to the fact that I was keeping my arms TOO low like you said.
I get really tense in my upper body when I run…and unfortunately knowing that makes me think about it more, and usually makes the problem worse! I am really trying to learn to relax, but with all the things to think about regarding form, it feels impossible to relax!
I have the same issue! I know I have the problem so now I think about it way too much!
I have the same problem! I am often told I look stiff. Thanks for the tips. I will definitely try to incorporate them.
Yes I think a lot of us are guilty of this. Good luck!
I pay attention to it. I always remember hearing from someone how, especially when you are tired, having strong arms helps push you forward. I always make sure to relax my hands and also have stiff shoulders so I roll them sometimes when I’m running to make sure they are relaxed!
Yes when you are tired using your arms can help you push through for sure!
I will try rolling my shoulders next time – maybe that will help keep me relaxed some.
Pretty much similar to what Kyle said, but I never had an issue, relatively low, smooth relaxed motion – then I ran my first 5k and was a ball of tension and my neck and shoulders killed! Ran another one the next week and was mindful of it and haven’t had an issue since.
I think it is one of those things that either comes naturally or is yet another PITA thing to ‘focus on not focusing on’, if you know what I mean 🙂 I am lucky.
Yes you are lucky! 🙂 I am getting better, but once you get into a habit sometimes it is hard to break!
Thanks for sharing. I didn’t know all this!
Always fun to learn something new 🙂
My trainer used to get on me constantly for my arm movements. I’ve since [tried] to change it, and when I do use correct form, I really notice a difference. He was right!
It is amazing how far the small things will go when it comes to running 🙂
Absolutely great tips!! We create so many injuries by swinging arms across our body. I’ve gotten my arms right, now I just have to work on keeping my shoulders down…they sneak up when I get nervous!
So true! I never thought arms were that important but they are!
I always think about my arms, probably a little too much. I was once told I hold my arms too high, and now I kind of obsess about it, and try to bring them down to a 90 degree angle, but they keep creeping up. I can’t wait until they just feel natural and I don’t have to dwell on it!