How often do we see athletes performing running arm drills in positions that are inconsistent with arm action during acceleration or max velocity?
Actually, quite a bit.
The problem is, we have been taught wrong from the get-go. We were taught that our arms should always be at 90 degrees. I am here to tell you that is not correct. Just watch athletes run, athlete that runs correctly that is, and notice how the arms move.
During acceleration, especially the drive phase, an athlete needs to overcome inertia. She needs to PUSH hard down and back into the ground. Relative to sprinting, the foot contact is much longer, and it takes time to finish the ground contact.
The arms can help this if you let them. If the arm that swings back is allowed to open up and lengthen (longer lever) it aids in the PUSH time of the opposite leg. As a matter of fact, as the arm strokes backward it actually begins to open up violently right of the bat- right from when it leaves the chin level on the front swing. This early opening action helps to time up with the long drive (long lever) of the push off leg- the opposite leg.
Now if we look at the front arm, it squeezes down into a tighter smaller lever. The elbow bends a lot and the forearm moves toward the bicep. This positioning and action aids in not over rotating the thorax but also quickens the front arm stroke to time up with the opposite front leg, which is also a shorter quicker lever.
If the arms stayed at 90 degrees all the time, then the legs would never be able to push longer and hard enough because the quicker the arms pass through its swing cycle the legs must somewhat match it or coordination becomes uncoordinated.
Another common mistake made by coaches is to have their athletes sit on the floor and swing their arms. We just said the arm strong back is long, and low, as it passes back past the hip. If the athlete used the proper arm swing while sitting, they would hit their hands into the ground every time.
It would be best to put the athlete in a half kneeling position, so proper levers can be used to execute the arm swing.
Much more about running arms could be addressed but I think you get the “SWING” of things.
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