My Arms are up Here! – 3 Steps to Improving your Running Upper Body Economy

Extra cushion, lugs, zero drop or barefoot running.  Heel striker, midfoot runner or forefoot runner.  When it comes to your running, all of the hype has been placed on where the money is: your feet, therefore your shoes. Do not, for one moment, think that I am discrediting the importance of foot strike, center of mass and lean angle.  I am a believer and a professor of its importance.  What I am saying is that we are overlooking an area that doesn’t come with sexy shoes, shiny bling or cool features like Vibram soles.  In fact, it’s a complete departure from your lower extremities. That something is your arms.  Yep, those other flaily things that you move while running play a large part in your running efficiency.

Arm swing while running

Your arms have so much to do with your run.  They help you drive up large hills, provide stabilization on rough terrain and can even be like a boat anchor if not held properly. For some people, their current arm carriage may be efficient, but if you are looking to increase your running economy, here are three key areas to pay attention to:

Keep Hands High: By keeping your hands high and elbows bent to be tighter than 90 degrees you reduce the force your arm creates in rotation.

Minimize Rotation: Think of your sternum as a plain that creates a center line through your body. While running your hands should not cross this plane.  Any excess movement of the arms across the body creates rotational forces in undesired directions.


Keep Forearms Tight: Forearms should be kept in tight against the body.  With every arm swing imagine your forearms brushing your sides.  Any external movement creates an imbalance and can also lead to increases in rotation of the upper body due to an increased likelihood the higher arm carriage causing the hands to cross the body’s centerline.

So, next time a fellow runner is only focusing on their feet, tell them, “My arms are up here!” Peel away the shoes and notice the incredible full body endeavour that is your run. If you’re curious about your running form and are curious how you could improve your efficiency, contact us today to find out how our expert team of coaches can help.

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