Running is not just a leg movement, it’s a whole body movement and a skill to develop and improve continuously.
Take for example the simple movement of arms and legs. Here are a couple of exercises for you to test the connection between your upper and lower body.
Walk as you normally would over a 50-100m distance if you can.
Now walk exaggerating the movement of your arms and shoulders only, again 50-100m. Everything else moves normally. What are your legs and hips doing? How do you feel? Are you in control of your movement?
Now walk exaggerating the movement of your legs and hips only. What are your arms and shoulders doing? How do you feel? Are you in total control of your body?
Now walk exaggerating the movement of your arms shoulders as well as your legs and hips. Walk faster, then slower, then faster and notice how your feet are moving and are positioned with each step, notice the level of control you may or may not have and your overall coordination.
Now hold your arms tied to your body and your hands to your thighs. As you walk move your shoulder and whole arm forward. But remember the arms and hands are tied to the legs, so the whole side of the body moves forward, each side at a time
How do you feel? Do you feel your body is moving efficiently? I’m not looking for a specific answer, although you can guess that should happen. I’m interested in your becoming aware of what’s happening to and with your body.
Here’s another example: walk with your arms behind your back.
You will probably notice that your shoulders still want, and struggle to move your arms but the arms aren’t going anywhere. It’s a struggle, you have to put in more energy than usual. If you continue walking like this at your normal walking speed you’d feel tired, more than you’d normally feel.
Notice how much effort the legs have to make to move you forward, how your core muscles do extra work trying, in vain, to move your arms.
Now release your hands and arms and walk normal. How easy is that. It’s just right, natural.
Do the 2 exercises above while running as well, you will see a massive difference between when using your arms and shoulders and when you don’t. Replace “walk” with “run” in the instructions.
Your body moves the way it moves because it was designed to move like this, this is the most efficient way to move, with the whole body as Jack Heggie says in his book Running With The Whole Body.
Yet many runners hold their arms tight to the sides. You don’t have to strain your arms and shoulders but they do have to move in co-ordination with your legs and hips.
When you move in co-ordination there is a spiralling motion in your spine. Certain muscles contract storing energy, while opposite muscles stretch and energy is released. You run faster, easier, and, most importantly, you reduce the risk of injuries because your body will begin to move like a well oiled machine, rather than pushing, pulling, struggling and straining.
How to use your upper body
Moving your upper body doesn’t mean you have to move it back and forth excessively. It’s enough to release tension in your shoulders and allow the arms to move like pendulums back and forth from your shoulders, as if you are hitting someone behind you.
Your arms should move backwards and forward, not across our body.
Keep your body moving the correct way, keep your joints as healthy and strong as you can and run for as long as you want.
Explore and develop an effortless and injury-free running style in our fast-track 4 weeks course 1-2-1. You will have videos and material after the course to help you continue to develop your running style. Want to know more? Just contact us here.