Arm Swing While Running: How To Get Better At Sprinting

Arm Swing While Running: How To Get Better At Sprinting

Published by Trevor Theismann on 6th Dec 2021

Arm Swing While Running: How To Get Better At Sprinting

Early in their development as sprinters, track athletes and runners begin to recognize the power of the arms and the speed and control that arm movement can bring to the process. When the arms are engaged, the body moves faster. But just as important, a powerful arm swing reduces the necessary work and energy of the legs during the running process, which means the body can maintain the running motion longer. With the arms in motion, the chest opens up, the body relaxes, breathing comes more naturally, and forward momentum becomes easier to sustain.

Novice runners quickly begin to recognize that when the arms are bent and moving in synch with the legs, the sprint is faster and easier to maintain. For advanced runners they begin to recognize how very small, seemingly minor elements of technique and body position during the arm swing can contribute to better running times and faster progress during speed development workouts.

The drill demonstrated in this video, called the arm swing running drill, can show runners how to get better at sprinting. The running arm swing is a simple motion, but by isolating the rest of the body and focusing exclusively on this exercise, runners can make the small improvements in technique that can have powerful impact on sprint speed.

This drill requires very little equipment, but it should be performed under the eye of a knowledgeable coach who can help runners correct minor issues related to body position, back alignment, and motion in the shoulders and arms. This drill can be worked into a regular weekly training routine for track and field athletes, sprinters, or participants in any sport that involves short distance running, endurance running, or rapid acceleration.

How to Get Better At Sprinting: Setting Up the Arm Swing Running Drill

The arm swing running drill can be executed almost anywhere and is very easy to set up. This drill can be performed in any room of the house, in a gym, or outdoors in a field or paved area. Participants should sit on the ground far with plenty of space between themselves, so each person can experience a full range of motion. The legs should be extended straight in front of the body and the back should be straight and tall.

Back position will have a significant impact on the success of the arm swing running drill. The chest should be wide and open and the back should not curl forward, as sometimes happens to runners during the sprint. All drill participants should start with their arms bent at a ninety degree angle and their hands open and relaxed.

How to Get Better at Sprinting: Executing the Arm Swing Running Drill

Once the arms are in place and the back and shoulders are properly positioned to reflect efficient running form, the drill can begin. Runners can start the running arm swing with the left arm, and then the right, bringing the hand up to the cheekbone and then rocking the elbow back behind the body.

Viewers can observe the demonstrators in the video and notice how the hands sometimes rise even higher than the cheekbones, but in all cases, the elbows stay bent at ninety degrees and extend fully both forward and back at every stride.

With the legs extended and the body in a sitting position, the motion won’t feel quite as natural as it does when the body is fully engaged in the running motion, but participants can take this opportunity to focus fully on the motion of the arms without any distractions.

How to Get Better at Sprinting: Concentrating on Linear Motion

Some running motions on the athletic field involve lateral spring or dodges from side to side, but if athletes are concerned with speed during straightforward, linear sprinting, they can use this drill to streamline the motion of the arms and keep forward acceleration as efficient as possible. They can do this by crossing back and forth over the line of motion. Keep the arms and elbows perfectly parallel to the direction of “motion” at all times, and when actual running takes place, the body’s work and energy will stay dedicated to forward sprint speed.

To get the most out if the arm swing running drill, athletes can start slow and freeze the arm at the height of the swing to examine and correct technique issues. As the drill picks up speed, athletes can develop a rhythm that mimics the actual motion of running.

How to Get Better At Sprinting: Final Notes on the Arm Swing Running Drill

It’s almost impossible to conduct this drill too many times during a daily or weekly training routine, and the exercise actually fulfills two goals which can be adjusted based on team and individual needs: First, the arms swing running drill helps athletes warm up and increase blood flow and range of motion before intense running sessions. And second, it isolates the body and gives athletes a chance to focus on form and technique during the arm swing.

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