Keep it swinging and increase your performance
Even if you think running is all about the legs, we runners know that arm movement is just as important. But honestly, how often do we pay attention to the right arm movement? I myself often have to remind myself to pay attention to arm swing when running.
Yet a study in the Journal of Experimental Biology showed that proper use of the arms can reduce energy expenditure by 3-13% and even lower extremity injuries are prevented.
This is why arm swing is so important in running
Running is all about finding a comfortable rhythm. It's easy to see how important arm swing is and how it can affect your overall rhythm when you run with your arms hanging down relaxed at your sides. Not only will this feel extremely uncomfortable, but you'll also notice the added strain on your back, hips and legs. This is because arm swing is crucial to stabilizing your body while running.
By balancing your body as you move, the arm swing helps lower your overall energy expenditure, propelling you forward and improving your running rhythm. This takes pressure off the lower body and improves pelvic rotation, which is easier on the legs as well.
While most runners focus on their footwork. Long distance runners in particular are known to keep their arms relaxed and in front of the body with minimal movement to conserve energy, even though the opposite is true.
Here's how to improve your arm swing
Bend your elbow: During running, the flexion of your elbow fluctuates slightly. To improve efficiency, keep elbow flexion in the 80 to 100 degree range. Keep your elbows bent and close to your sides in the same plane of motion without letting them swing across your body.
Swinging from the shoulders: swing your arms from your shoulders, not your elbows. Try not to lift your shoulders up or down during the swing to relieve tension and stay relaxed. Shoulders should also not move forward or backward. Instead, make sure to keep your shoulders in a fixed position.
Relax your hands: When you clench your hands into fists, your upper body and shoulders are tense. If you relax your hands, it will transfer to your arms and shoulders.
Concentrate on your arm swing: The forward swing of the arm is most natural; however, most runners can improve their arm movement behind the body. Be sure to push the elbow back a little farther than usual. Then the forward motion will happen on its own. Although it may take some getting used to and feel difficult at first, the stronger arm swing will take the strain off your legs.
Why don't you try it out at on of our next upcoming runs?