Armswing can be surprisingly difficult to fix, but when you do it right you’ll get a much bigger improvement in your performance than you probably expected.
That’s because if there’s something going wrong with your armswing–such as a large, energy-wasting, and even flailing kind of action–it’s actually the result of a problem elsewhere in your form. When you fix that your arms will consistently move better and you’ll run better overall.
If your arms swing wide, you’re making one of two mistakes with your torso: you’re either flexed (i.e. hunching over) or you’re too rigid. Both of those mistakes cost you a lot in performance–impairing your breathing, keeping you from using your glutes well, shortening your stride, and increasing the stresses that can lead to injuries such as plantar fasciitis/fasciosis, runner’s knee, and IT band syndrome.
In both cases, the solution is to improve your core action.
This balances out a flexed torso because the counterrotation of your trunk (which I’ve dubbed “core action”) balances the length and tension in the trunk flexors and extensors.
It corrects a too-rigid torso simply by getting it moving.
Regardless of which problem you have, getting your core action working properly has a huge effect on your performance. Back when I had an office in NYC my clients tended to be runners who raced frequently, and they nearly always PRed in their first race after having a core action lesson with me.
I demonstrate all of this, including how each of the two trunk problems leads to armswing problems, in this video:
The free Mind Your Running Challenge will help you discover your core action and how your arms fit into it:The Mind Your Running Challenge
If you’re the kind of person who wants targeted work on your issues rather than a one-size-fits-all program, book an analysis call with me here.
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Jae Gruenke, GCFP, is a running technique expert and Feldenkrais Practitioner. Known as a “running form guru,” she is the Founder and CEO of The Balanced Runner™ in New York City and The Balanced Runner UK. She has helped runners from beginner to Olympian improve their form to become pain-free, economical, and fast.