The arm swing: to many runners, it seems like the arm swing is never quite right. It’s one of those tells that can make someone’s running form look hypnotizingly smooth or awkwardly out of whack. Plus, by not using the arms properly, runners can end up just wasting loads of energy. That’s something no distance runner wants.
A person’s arms make up about 10 percent of their body’s weight so when not used right they will work against you. For runners covering longer distances, the idea is to use as little energy as possible. Keep the arms relaxed and at the sides. A lot of runners have the tendency to tense up the shoulders and carry their arms too high or clench the fists. That’s effort wasted. Drop the arms in a comfortable position, relax.
Your arm swing should be working for you as a way to counter-balance leg action. If it’s more than just an easy run, you want to drive the arms as a way to push the opposite leg forward. This is especially important when it comes to hauling yourself up a steep hill or kicking at the finish. Make sure you’re really driving the arms forwards, creating momentum.
If you’re ever out for a run, you’ve probably noticed at least one runner whose arms are swinging across their chest. It’s a common form mistake but a recent study saw that keeping arms dropped down and swinging straight uses nine percent less energy than the across-the-chest form.
If you’re a runner who tends to have bad form with the arm swing, it always helps to take a couple minutes and practice in the mirror so you can observe what you’re doing wrong before you go out.