Running Soft: Arm Swings

Run for Life book

Run for Life by Wallack

I’ve been reading this running book titled “Run for Life.” Their premise is if you do certain things in your running and cross train, you should be able to continue running up to the age of 100!  The secret?  Run soft and do strength training.

Well today I focused on one aspect of this–running soft–mostly focusing on my arm swing.

During my long run–just over 20 Km (12.8 miles to be exact)–I focused 100% of my effort to ensuring my arms were just over 90 degrees bent and were swinging on the vertical plane.  Occasionally I would make sure my knees and heels were going up.

The proper swinging of arms, according to the book, helps keep the running balanced.  If you swing your arms across your body, it causes lateral stress on various parts of your body, especially the hips, knees, and ankles.  This unbalanced running is what causes the injuries.  So if you swing your arms in the vertical plane (basically forward and back), you reduce or eliminate the extra stress.

Here’s how I felt after the long run:

  • Left calf sore — I think this was sore because I was partially correcting my form by trying to bring my knees and heels up during the run; normally my left foot drags, which causes the uneven wear on my left shoe compared to the right.
  • No knee pain on either leg — Last year or the year before I felt serious pain on the right knee; later after the right knee recovered, I felt pain or soreness on the left.
  • No hip pain — I normally feel pain on the right hip.  This time around I felt none.  That is a good thing.
  • Hamstrings sore — My heels don’t go up enough, which means that my legs, on the turn over, would be limited in speed; since I did better heel kicks, it would only make sense that my hamstring are sore since the hamstrings are doing extra work.  Note that by bringing the heel up, the leg is shorter on the turn over, allowing the leg (as a unit) to move faster from the back to the front.  This is just plain physics.

Run for Life is probably the most comprehensive book on running I’ve ever read.  The information in it are very relevant for all ages, especially for those over 40 years of age just trying to stay fit.

I will share more useful information over time; for now think about arm swings as part of the overall process to run soft.


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