24 Thu

Running with your arms

Running with your arms

Written by: Paul Kochoa, PT, DPT, OCS, CKTP, CGFI


In the New York Times, Gretchen Reynolds writes about a study out of the University of Colorado at Boulder that investigated how the use of the arms affects one’s efficiency with running.

They studied 13 runners and how much energy they expended while running with their arms in different positions:  arms behind the back, arms crossed in front of the chest, hands on the head, and arms free to swing.  So they found that running with your hands on your head expended 13 percent more energy.  It was better and more efficient to let the arms swing freely.

Generally, I file this away in the “duh” bin, but some points that the article made were pretty good.  The theory is that the swinging of the arms counteracted the swinging of the legs and the movement of the rest of the body.  Reciprocal arm motion helped to balance the runners and make running less tiring.

The other point is that the study found that the variations of arm swing during running didn’t make any major differences in running efficiency.  However, with such a small sample size it’s tough to believe that running with the arms swinging across the body is different than the arms swinging forward and backward.  Running efficiency relies on maintaining forward momentum, and any “leakage” of forward movement makes running inefficient.  It’s like trying to drive your car with an alignment issue on the front tires, it works but not efficiently.  Your mileage may vary.

If you would like more information, please call Professional Physical Therapy and Training at 973-270-7417.  Our offices are located within the YMCA locations in Madison and Summit, NJ.  You do not need to be a member of the YMCA to visit with us.


Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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