Running Arms

A runner’s favorite form of training? Running. After all, the more you do it, the more endurance you build and the faster you get! So why do anything other than run?!
Well, apart from the muscle imbalances you are probably causing, and other forms of cardio out there that are a tad kinder to your joints (I’m talking to my own knees here), FORM is something you should focus on in running.

Whether you are pumping your arms so freaking fast at the end of a 5k, or trying your best not to slouch like an osteoporotic 90 year old woman toward the end of a marathon, you’ve probably noticed your form slacks a bit during any type of run.

Towards the end of a 5k run about a year ago… note the slouched upper body

For me, the half marathon gets me good. My body is so exhausted from staying upright for nearly 2 hours, that even without a mirror I can seriously tell I am hunching over. Bad. I have decent upper body strength so it surprises me to see the pictures that someone took afterwards.

But it also keeps me aware that strength training, particularly targeting the areas that weaken in running form, is so important. I emphasize posture and upright stance to nearly every patient I have, so it makes sense I should work on it myself for physical activity 🙂

So that brings me to: running arms. And upper back and shoulders and neck but that was too long of a post title. Here is my favorite exercise routine to do to improve my form with running:

HAMMER CURLS: this is the motion your arms go through when you’re running, so why not lift like this?! Anyone else get the “cheek to cheek” spiel in track??

(example video) … I prefer to alternate left and right, as this mimics running more.

ROW MACHINE: works your rhomboids, the muscles that give up (on me at least) after I’ve been running for a while. Think about pinching your spine with your shoulder blades… those muscles.

ELLIPTICAL, arms only!: Hopefully you have access to an elliptical that has moveable arms. You can do sprints, so no resistance and just pump as hard as you can. Or add some resistance … even level 5 can be a butt-kicker after only a few minutes! Tip: try to only move your arms, don’t invite the hips and legs to the party, keep those still. Fun fact: I hate the elliptical when used the normal way. Feels so weird.

Notice how my feet are on the plates off to the side, not on the moveable ones. Keep your head forward, but try to relax your neck. Don’t awkwardly smile with your head cocked to the side (I’m still trying to figure out how not to take cheesy pics here)

PLANK: I’m a firm believer in one’s overall strength coming from their core. If your abs and back are weak (or one side much stronger than the other!) this will throw your entire kinetic chain off. It’s what I’ve noticed most with low-back pain patients in my career. So, strengthening your core is rather important in keeping an upright posture for any activity.

Fun fact: I had no clue my shorts OR shoes had reflective parts to them until I saw this pic. Awesome. Now I can go on those midnight runs I’ve been wanting to do.

example workout: 20 alternating hammer curls (I hold 15 or 20 pounders)

10 rows (heavy weight)

5 mins elliptical- arms only

plank it for 1 min

repeat 3x

Even though I am showing you all these, and I do my best to do them at least once a week, I am one that struggles with form BAD during races (mostly towards the end). My goal is to have great form throughout a race one day, and I believe these exercises and focusing on form during running will help!

Tell me….

Have you ever noticed your form when running? What do you think?

Any tips you’ve learned from a coach regarding running form you’d like to share?!

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