I care a lot about my running community, I understand the freedom and clarity that comes with a quiet trail run through the woods, as Christopher McDougal stated in his book I know we were born to run, but I try to stay as objective as possible when I look at life and human behavior.
I see three very general types of arm swing with runners. From worst to best there are those who almost don’t use their arms, they look kind of like flightless birds. These runners are rare, but I have seen them. The second group use their arms, but the purpose of their arms is just to counterbalance what their legs are doing. This is most endurance runners, you will also see most of them stuck in hyper extension of their shoulders meaning that their elbow never actually moves forward up to their ribs, this is a sure sign they are lacking force production from their arms. Then as the last sentence alluded to, there are those that create leverage with their arm. We generally see sprinters do a pretty good job at this, Usain bolt comes to mind. Mo Farrah and Lopez Lamong can be seen using their arms swing to create tension as well as loading and unloading forces to maximize their efficiency. There are so many variables that play into what your current optimal is while running, and as you change, whether its your power output, vo2 max, muscle mass, body weight, core strength, etc, your new optimal will change for a given distance or speed. Like life in general you have to continuously adapt or there will be consequences to pay.
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James is dedicated to helping the Portland area decrease pain and improve performance. He believes education is an important factor in solving your problems.