How Should I Move My Arms While Running?

Perfecting the way you run can increase performance and reduce fatigue, so it's important to know the correct positioning and movements for the arms while running.
How Should I Move My Arms While Running?

Last update: 15 November, 2019

A runner’s technique can vary depending on the type of race (a long-distance race isn’t the same as a marathon). What can’t change is the movement of the arms while running. We’ll give you all of the details about the correct techniques for arm movements when going for a run!

How should I move my arms while running?

One of the most common questions regarding running techniques has nothing to do with breathing or speed, but with arms. How should we move them while we run?

We must know that if we comply with what “the books indicate”, we’ll be more efficient because we won’t spend as much energy and we won’t need lots of effort to reach the finish line.

Maybe you’ve been running for a while and you’ve been doing it wrong all this time? In that case, changing certain habits will take several weeks, but it doesn’t matter. Sooner or later you’ll get it.

You will save energy with the right arm movement.

We have to observe ourselves and pay attention to others during a race. What do the people who finish faster or complete marathons feeling less exhausted do? They move their arms in a certain way!

We must always find that perfect balance between comfort and effectiveness. In short, the movement of the extremities is the same as walking, but faster when running. In any case, you must maintain a relaxed posture. No matter how technical you are, if you feel uncomfortable, you can then suffer a contracture or injury.

The importance of knowing how to move your arms while running

Surely you have seen many races and besides watching the leg movements, the way the athletes move their arms has caught your attention? The arm movements made during competitions allows us to boost our speed and at the same time, balance the rest of the body. It even helps us to conserve energy.

That coming and going of the arms in perfect symbiosis with the legs helps us to reach the finish line faster. Pay close attention to the techniques that expert runners use:

1. The arms have to form a 90-degree angle

It’s essential to relax the shoulders (don’t tense up) and that the movement is fluid while accompanying the body. It shouldn’t be forced or uncomfortable at all.

2. Do not separate the arms form the body

A very common mistake for beginners is to move the elbows away from the torso believing that they will go faster (like a flying bird). However, it’s the opposite, since the effort to break the wind resistance will have to be greater.

If the arms are kept as close as possible to the trunk, then it will be easier to advance.

3. Hands always relaxed

Some runners usually close their fists when they run. Maybe it’s because they want to keep warm. The problem with this habit is that they tighten their wrists and forearms. This also makes them spend more energy!

Keep your arms as close to the body as possible while running.

4. Synchronize your movements

Your arms should move in synchronization with your legs. Be careful, it’s not a matter of exaggerating the strokes and strides because that would tire you even more. It’s essential for the movements to be in harmony. Assimilate the way you do it without thinking too much about correcting the movement.

5. Do not exceed the ears

You may have seen some runners with somewhat strange arm movements, where their hands cross in front of the body, down to the middle of the torso (or more). Although it’s an accepted technique, the truth is that it’s not advisable because it will not make you run faster!

It’s much better for the arms to go up to the chest making sure the hands don’t inwardly cross the imaginary line of the ears. Also, when you lower your arms, they cannot descend under the waist. Otherwise, you will be inefficient and run slower.

Finally, don’t make the mistake of excessively rotating the torso and carrying your arms too far back. By doing this, your body makes an extra effort to balance itself and this will subtract milliseconds from your performance. These milliseconds can make you lose the opportunity to stand on the podium.

By the end of your training or race, if you notice that your arms and shoulders are contracted or too tired (even more than the legs) it’s because your technique isn’t quite correct. You can ask someone to film you in order to see where you’re failing and solve it with practice.

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  • CAVAZOS, L. (2013). Correr está de moda – Grupo Milenio.