A few weeks ago I wrote a post about the feet. Today, I thought that I would address the arms.
I spent part of last week volunteering to help some 9-12 year olds in a camp. My job was to teach them flag football. During the week, I had a few opportunities to watch the kids and see how they performed the various drills (when they weren’t pouring water on each other and whatever else they could think of). It amazed me how many of the kids didn’t use their arms correctly while running. Arms were flying sideways, going in circles, and pretty much doing everything except being used to run like an “athlete”. Now, I understand that the kids were young and had never been taught how to run. It just made me think about a few how important the arms are.
How important are your arms in sprinting? The action of your arms is connected to the action of your legs. Don’t believe it? Try this simple drill. Stand up and jog in place allowing both your arms and legs to move. Now pump your arms faster and faster. What happens to your legs? They move faster!!!! See, I told you they worked together. This is a drill that I like to use when I start discussing arm mechanics with athletes. No matter if they are 8 years old or 28, they can quickly figure out the importance of using your arms.
If you take a look at the above picture of Jesse Owens and two other runners, you can see arms a legs working together. Each of the athletes is at a slightly different point in their stride but they are all using similar mechanics. When the left knee drives upward, the right arm moves with it and vice versa. In young, untrained runners this one of the most glaring problems. Just like the kids in camp last week, their arms move through multiple planes instead of simply moving anterior-posterier. This incorrect movement makes the body work harder and makes it slower going from point A to point B.
Does this only apply when running in a straight line like a track athlete? Not at all. Look at the rugby picture and check out the arms.
These players are in the process of changing directions and they are still using their arms to help out. The arms can help you to accelerate when you run and change directions. One of the first things that I try to evaluate and correct in an athlete is the use of their arms. Then I keep on them through running drills, conditioning, agility drills – pretty much any time that correct arm usage is important. It really helps them to run better in all directions and to be a better overall athlete.