By Pamela Mazzuca HBSc. Kin, Athletic Therapist
You may be wondering just what your arm swing has to do with improving your PB, well you may be surprised to learn just how much they are connected. If you’re arm swing is already pretty solid than you are a head of the game, since an inefficient arm swing could be causing you to expend an excess of precious energy without any payback.
A good arm swing starts with good posture. This will help ensure your arms are starting in the correct position. If your posture leaves little to be desired, then be sure to stretch your chest and arms before and after every run to help open up your chest and shoulders. Another critical component to a good arm swing is shoulder stability. A strong shoulder girdle (which is made up of your deltoids, rotator cuff, rhomboids and trapezius) will help prevent rotation of your upper spine as you swing, making you more stable and reducing the amount of energy you waste.
Aside from making you more energy efficient, a good arm swing can help you through the toughest parts of a race. You know that moment when you feel your legs getting heavy and you begin labouring through each stride and you begin questioning just what you have left in the tank, well this is the moment you should switch your focus onto your arm swing. Focusing on your arm swing, and not how tired you are, will help you maintain a good rhythm, stride, cadence and posture as you sail through the finish line. And when you reach that dreaded hill section of the race, just pump your arms harder and you will feel an increase in power being transmitted from your arms to your legs, helping you up the hills.
Have someone film you run or inspect your reflection in store windows along your run to check just exactly what your arms are doing, you may be shocked at what you see. Once you know what your arm swing looks like, spend a few minutes each time you warm up to correct your arm swing, to get the rhythm and feel of what a proper arm swing should be. This is a easy way to help improve your PB.
A strong arm swing should consist of the following:
- Arms should swing in opposite directions, and in sync, with the legs – right arm with left leg and left leg with right arm.
- Arms should pump back and forth, not across your body.
- The swing should come from your shoulders, not your elbows.
- Elbows should be bent approximately 90-degrees as your hands graze your hips (slightly more bent, 70-degrees, as they swing forward and slightly more extended, 120-degrees, as they swing back)
- And remember, your neck, shoulders and hands should be relaxed.