Running Technique

Run Efficiently: The Importance of Proper Arm Technique

The importance of a good arm technique in running is often underestimated. However, it significantly contributes to running efficiency, improving overall style while reducing the risk of injuries. But why exactly is arm technique so important, and what should you pay attention to?

Why is arm position important?

When running, the arms work closely with the legs. Proper arm movement stabilizes the running motion and helps maintain the body’s balance. This leads to a more efficient running style and can increase speed. Interestingly, it’s practically impossible to move your arms at a faster rhythm than your legs. The arms set the pace and coordinate the entire movement. On the other hand, an irregular or incorrect arm swing can cause tension in the upper body, especially in the shoulders and neck.

Correct arm movement also wastes less energy. A relaxed and rhythmic arm swing helps to use energy optimally, which is particularly beneficial during longer runs.

What makes a good arm technique?

But what makes a good arm technique? The arms should be bent at an angle of about 90 degrees to ensure an optimal balance between stability and freedom of movement. The direction of the arm movement should be parallel to the running direction, without swaying to the sides. This way, energy is directed straight forward, and unnecessary lateral movements are avoided.

Hands should be held relaxed, as if holding a raw egg. The index finger and thumb should touch lightly. At the same time, the shoulders and neck should remain relaxed to avoid tension. The arm swing should be synchronized with the leg movement: when the right arm swings forward, the left leg goes forward, and vice versa.

Common Mistakes

  1. Arms too high: When the hands are held too high in front of the body, it leads to inefficient movement and increases upper body tension.
  2. Crossing arms: A lateral crossing of the arms in front of the body can disrupt balance and lead to uneven running motion.
  3. Stiff shoulders: Tense or raised shoulders limit freedom of movement and can cause tension and pain.

To improve arm technique, conscious training is essential. It can be helpful to become aware of your own arm movements and analyze them, for example by observing a running partner or using video recordings.

Running ABC exercises can specifically help refine arm technique and should be regularly integrated into running training. Deep and even breathing additionally supports shoulder relaxation and helps maintain a relaxed arm posture.

Possible Exercises

  • Activate and deactivate arms: Hold your arms straight up in the air during skipping (watch exercises video). After about 5-10 seconds, you can activate them again. This way, you directly understand the importance of arm usage.
  • Touch hips: Keep your arms at a 90-degree angle. Touch the hip bone with your hand with each arm swing. Make sure the arm movement is parallel to the running direction.
  • Exaggerate: Do you know that you hold your arms at too acute or too flat an angle? Try exaggerating in the opposite direction. If you usually hold your arms at too acute an angle, extend your arms and run with an “open pendulum”. If the angle is generally too flat, you can pinch a small stone on the inside of your arm to simulate the exaggerated angle. Perform the exaggerated movement for about 20 seconds.


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