Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Swing Baby Swing: "The Arm Swing"

California International
Marathon 2015
You probably heard this many times either from a friend or from a complete stranger that you ended up having a chat with during your run, “If you want to be efficient in running, then you need to swing those arms”. Running fundamentals never cease to amaze me, from foot strike, knee drive, forward lean, breathing, cadence to stride. It’s amazing that we talk so much about those, but not much on how we carry or swing our arms when running. This begs the question; why does it matter?

The short answer is efficiency. Efficiency relates to how you properly use that energy in the course of a long run. How you swing those arms play a vital role in being efficient and it helps you survive the brutal demand of long distance running.

Hmmm I can sense sarcasm…what if I just let my arms still, that way my legs can use that energy? Really? Well, try running without swinging your arms…weird, right? Another reason why we’re swinging those arms is to counter balance our feet movement and also for our torso not to twist during the run. This balance helps prevent injuries while running. It’s the biomechanics of our arms to react naturally so that our body will not go side to side.

Show me how it’s done. For “long” distance running, it is recommended that your arms be at 90o angle, the swing movement should come from your arms and not from your shoulders (as this could result in injury). It is recommended that when swinging your arms that it should not past the midline of your upper body, this midline is the imaginary line drawn from your nose down to your navel.

Video Credit: Forward Running

If it’s hard to know if you’re doing it right, ask for some assistance from your running buddy, spouse or significant other to video you (on the treadmill will be great). This way you can see for yourself how great or funny you run:-).  If change needs to happen just be patient as this might take a while before you get accustomed to this.

Let me be clear, I’m not suggesting that you change the way you swing your arms as this might affect the rest of your running mechanics. If your form is not giving you any injuries and you’re hitting the pace that you always wanted, then don’t fix it. For some, give it a try this might be your saving glory in crossing that line and setting the PR that’s been eluding you for a long time.

Thanks for reading and feel free to post comments or questions in the section below and I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible. As always, have fun but be SAFE!

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