Running Arm Swing: Your Secret Weapon

In a blog post a few weeks ago, I mentioned the importance of using your upper body effectively when running. This is one of the often forgotten elements of efficient running technique. Getting your upper body running action right will make a huge difference to your running once you master the correct upperbody and arm movements!

Too many distance runners (and indeed coaches) seem to believe that they should consciously minimise movements occurring around the arms and upper body, in an effort to conserve energy.

However, once you fully understand the way in which the body acts as a single machine with it’s various interacting segments, it’s clear that the arm and upper body movement is needed to balance out the motions of the lover body and pelvis. In addition, correct use of the upper body will enable you to better engage your core muscles.

Holding your arms passively against your sides (as many runners do) might look relaxed and efficient – but in fact all you’ll be achieving is ‘switching off‘ a key part of your running form!

Correct Arm Motion In Running

Coach Matt Russ from has created this great video to help explain the correct arm motion in running, sharing some drills and exercises:

Getting Tired? Focus on Your Arms

Practice and perfect the correct arm motion when you’re fresh and feeling good. Once you become confortable with the technique, you’ll find that you’ve developed a secret weapon in your running armoury!

I find that getting runners to focus on their arm action when fatigued helps them to maintain a good rhythm, stride frequency (cadence) and posture. This is far more powerful than trying to make the tired legs work again!

Try it on your next long run… my athletes and I fnd it to be a great cue and focus point to use.

In addition, when faced with a hill, pump your elbows back and forth more. Feel the increase in power transmitted from your arms to your legs.

As Matt says in the video above. Try to direct all the force in a back and forth motion, avoiding excessive rotation. We want all the power you create to power you forwards!


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