What do I do with my arms?

I have been performing the 100-up Minor exercise for a while now. Recently I have begun to increase the speed at which I do the exercise and the question popped into my head: “What do I do with my arms?”. I looked at what W.G. George had to say in his book ‘The 100-up Exercise’. George says: “hold them at full length and swing them forward half across the body and backwards a few inches behind the back as each stride is taken.“. Sources on the internet say keep the arms relaxed with the elbows locked at an angle a little less than 90 degrees. Conflicting advice. It seems I had opened a can of worms. I kept search without getting a definitive answer.

Then I came across ‘The Biomechanics of the Arms During Running‘ by Megan Moreau. I didn’t understand much of the first 3 pages but the section on distance running versus sprinting on 4th page was illuminating. It seems that different arm actions are used to achieve different effects in the body and that distance runners use their arms differently to sprinters. George of course was a distance runner and his description of the arm action fits with what Moreau describes for distance running.

Since I got into all this in the first place to live Primal Blueprint Law #4 ‘Run really fast every once in a while’ I am going to go with the arm action for sprinting, namely:

  • elbows bent at a little less than 90 degrees at all times
  • hand held in a soft fist with the thumb on the outside lightly pressing on the forefinger (Jay Murdock relates how some coaches recommend imagining a holding a crisp in each hand. You don’t want to crush the crisp!)
  • the arms move from the shoulders with
  • no rotation of the upper body, the chest stays square to the front
  • as the arm moves back and forth the hand moves between hip and shoulder height

I found this video from Tom Craggs on YouTube which explains this.

Practising the arm movement alone you can feel the impact of the arm action on the rest of the body. You almost feel as though you want to break into a run… ALMOST!

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