Running Arm Swing: Efficient Technique

All too frequently, when focusing on running technique the main areas addressed are the biomechanics of the legs and feet, but what about the movements and use of the upper body and arms?

In my coaching experience, there are huge gains to be made for an athlete when they learn to integrate correct arm and upper body mechanics into their technique.

In distance runners, I tend to coach individuals to strike a balance between:

  • Using the arms actively to maintain rhythm and to set a steady leg cadence
  • Generating power, balance and stability
  • Staying relaxed and smooth
  • Cutting out any excessive rotation through the torso by maintaining control of the arm swing
  • Being efficient in their movements for the given pace

For distance runners the active swing and rhythm of arms can provide a great trigger to “keep the legs turning over” when fatigue kicks in during the latter parts of a race.

This, amongst other key points is also pointed out in the great video below by our friend and fellow coach Brian Martin (@BrianRunCoach).

Running Technique Quick Guide [FREE PDF]

About The Author 

James has an academic background in Sport Rehabilitation and a special interest in Applied Biomechanics. He currently coaches a large number of Runners and Triathletes across all levels of ability and performance. He's grown a strong reputation for enabling athletes to improve their running performance and overcome running injuries through improving their Running Technique and developing Running Specific Strength.



  • […] Often under-coached, the correct movements of the upper body serve to facilitate the core engagement we need to maintain strong form, reinforce the link between the upper and lower body rhythm and prevent unwanted rotation. The key is to keep the elbow bent to around 90º and maintain a forwards and back motion with the hands, rather than letting them drift across the body. Stay relaxed through the shoulders and maintain a feeling of staying active with the arms rather than passively rocking. Learn more. […]

  • […] HERE is a great article/video about your Running Arm Swing!  ”For distance runners the active […]

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