Coach Dena's Corner: Drop your hands!

Running with high hands Running with relaxed hands

High hands, tight shoulders                       Relaxed hands, more fluid gait

Drop your hands! 

From Coach Dena Evans

Like a golf swing, running form tips can multiply easily, leaving athletes overthinking every move and frustrated with the lack of results. 

Good form helps you get from point A to point B either more quickly, more efficiently, or both. That’s it! 

None of us have “perfect” form, and most of us will make it either way. The question is, "Can we boil down a few concepts, take some time to work on them incrementally, and internalize them enough over time to make a real difference either in our speed or our enjoyment?" Let’s find out!

One cue I've likely yelled (in an encouraging way!) thousands of times is to “Drop Your Hands.” Yes, of course this is literally impossible as we typically want our hands attached to us, but the simple act of lowering your hands can yield improved results over time.

If you find yourself running with your hands swinging back and forth across your chest or your rib cage, most likely your shoulders are raised and a bit hunched, leaving your neck tight  and more quickly tired as well. Lower your hands, so that your arm swing brings your thumbs brushing back and forth along your pockets (or where your pockets would be).

This simple move drops your shoulders, helping stave off that tight and tired feeling that creeps in after a few miles into long runs.

While helping you stay relaxed longer, lower hands can also help you when you want to move faster. Ask any kid if they would prefer a long diving board or a short one, a short swing or a tall one. The longer board or the taller swing creates much more momentum and fun. So can your arms when your elbow is closer to a 90 degree angle.

Think of your shoulders as the stable frame of that swing set. Your elbows are the swings. A consistent, relaxed arc moving back and forth is the ideal to visualize. 

 

How to practice:

If you're timing a run, take one minute out of every 5 or 10 to practice a loose arm swing with your hands brushing your pockets. 

If you aren’t timing your run, pick five landmarks in the distance and concentrate on your armswing until your reach each. Shorter bouts of practice will help you actually feel the difference without losing concentration and reverting back to your old arm swing.  When you feel the difference, you’ll be motivated to keep practicing when fatigue or the need for speed arises.

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