Run More Efficiently! Arm Swing and Torso.

Last week I covered your stride and your cadence for running efficiently.  This week we move up, looking at the torso and arm swing.

Your arms assist a significant amount to generate power and momentum when you run.  Don’t believe me?  Next time you go for a run, stop using your arms and see what happens.  I guarantee you will notice a huge difference!

Along with the arms, you also need slight rotation through your torso.  The coordinated movement pattern between the torso, arms, and legs combine to give you the momentum required for an efficient running pattern.

When it comes to arm swing and rotation, it is similar to the story of Goldilocks.  You don’t want to lack arm swing or under-rotate and you don’t want to have an excessive arm swing or over-rotate.  You need to be right in the middle…”just right.”

So why is this?

If you swing your arms very little, you will not generate much momentum through your arms.  An excessive arm swing can do a couple things.  Being that the arms fall into pattern with the legs, it may cause your stride to lengthen and your cadence to slow down.  As you learned last week, this causes a decreased efficiency with your running.  With the longer arm swing, it can also throw the momentum and timing off a bit, causing a surge of energy followed by a slight lag of energy.

Another fault to be cautious of with arm swing is the cross body arm swing.  This causes a side to side or rotational momentum rather than a forward momentum.  If your momentum is going any direction besides forward, you will not be running efficiently.

Now to the torso.  What can go wrong there?

Running stiff in the torso causes your arms to swing less.  It is truly hard to say if your decreased arm swing is truly just you not swing your arms or if it is the torso being held very stiff.  Regardless, the stiffer you hold your torso, the less arm swing you will have, and the less efficient running pattern you will have.

With an increased torso rotation, your momentum will be more of a rotational direction, just like if the arms swing across the body.  Once again, if the momentum is any direction besides forward, your running efficiency will suffer.

So what do you do about this if you have one of these faults?

I had a coach in high school that had a teammate run with two short sticks.  She was a runner who tended to do a cross body arm swing.  Holding the sticks have her something to focus on to keep her arms going forward rather than across her body.  It worked for her, but I am not saying it will work for you.  Just an idea to throw out there.

The biggest thing is becoming aware that you are doing it in the first place and then find something that works for you to correct it.  Maybe it is having a running partner watch you and remind you, maybe you just need to mentally focus on it, or maybe you need to find a trick/trigger/cue like holding two small sticks.

Whatever works for you, go with it!  You got this!

Have more questions regarding this?  Email me at

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