The role of the arms is to stabilize the torso so that power can continue to be efficiently transferred through the hips. It is this ability to move energy effectively through the center of the mass (body) that not only improves the rate of acceleration but also facilitates reaching maximum speed, maintaining those top speeds and reducing the rate of deceleration.
The forearm angle should be between 80-90 degrees at the elbow, and your bicep should be between 90-100 degrees, at the elbow. If your arm angles fall outside of this range, your running mechanics will be negatively affected. In short, you'll run slower and get tired faster. When running, the arm swing should be initiated at and through the shoulders.
As the runner's distance increases, it becomes more vital to teach the proper arm mechanics to promote endurance, efficiency, and prevent injury. Conducting the appropriate arm mechanics in distance runners is just as crucial as teaching it in sprinting because the arms are used over a more extended period. The difference in sprints and distance is the simple range of the forward motion. In sprints, hand drives up to the chin at a quicker pace while in a longer distance, it only drives to the bottom of the chest but slower. One of the causes of injuries in the running is the over-exaggeration of arms which can lead to over striding.
The arms are a vital part of the running motion because they help to create balance, the lifting of a runners' knee, and the forward drive movement. If you can improve the running arm swing, you can significantly increase the speed and enhance endurance by making the arms more efficient. The arms account for 40% of the running motion while the legs and the core account for the remaining 60%. For example, try to run without moving your arms, and you will be slower and get tired faster.
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