Every once in a while I’m driving down the street and I see a person running with form that puts a slight grin on my face. The poor thing looks like an egg beater. You know you have seen them! Arms swinging out to the sides as if they are swattin’ flies, and legs twisting out at the knees as if they’re kicking some foreign object off their shoe with each stride. It’s then that I say to my husband, I bet they would enjoy running more a) if they were more efficient, and b) if their knees and hips were not so sore from the way they were being ripped by the outward torsion from the joint.
In regards to form, think of it as a top down approach, starting at the head:
Shoulders: When a runner is stressed the tendency is to bring the shoulders up toward your ears. Your shoulders should be nice and relaxed as they help move your arms back and forth.
Arms: Do not underestimate the power of the arms! In running, arms are used to propel you forward, make them do their job! If you are a soccer player, you likely run with your arms crossing your body as if you are going to elbow somebody. Others, barely move their arms, and you can’t help but wonder if internally they are in their 80’s as they are shuffling along.
The text book states that in running, the arms (at the wrist) should swing from the hip to the eye ball. Your arms should not be coming across your body. If your arms are moving side to side, then the propulsion of moving forward is being limited, thus decreasing your efficiency. Have you ever thought, I’m running but I’m not getting anywhere? Check your arms, you’ll be surprised at the difference it makes.
She later learned that pretending like you were holding an egg in your hand was much more efficient. I prefer the thumb on the pointer finger method. I used to run with clinched fists, but with a little help from my coaches, they helped me realize that if I was tight with my hands I became more tight in my arms and shoulders.
There it is for part one. Go out, hit the pavement and try tweaking a few things on your form. It may feel unnatural at first, but give it time and you’ll be surprised at the difference good form can make.
Special thanks to Kristen Guymon, Master of Exercise Science.