Running Tip: Use Your Brain-to-Arm Connection

All of us want to run faster and longer, but sometimes our bodies are just not ready to start cooperating. After all, running is a complicated coordination of movements. It takes skill! Even if we see the correct movements in our heads, transforming our bodies into world class form just doesn’t always happen easily. It seems that the brain-to-leg connection is just not ready to send the right information. The solution: the brain-to-arm connection. Send the message to your arms!

” alt=”Runner” width=”300″ height=”225″ />Studies have shown that there is an connection between what our arms and legs do during activities which require both sets of appendages to move in some synchronized manor. The connection is so tuned in, that we can even relate similar arm and leg body parts. For example, shoulders relate to hips, elbows to knees, and wrists to ankles. If we send the correct message to our elbows, we can in effect, control our knees. Here are three ways to improve your running by sending a message to your arms that will in turn directly effect your leg movement.

  1. Increase your stride rate. Also referred to as your run cadence, numerous surveys indicate that the best runners and triathletes take 90+ steps per minute (per single leg). One great way to begin increasing your stride rate is to move your arms faster while you run. This simultaneously sends a message to your legs to also increase cadence, keeping arms and legs synchronized to the same rhythm.
  2. Lift and bend your knees. Knee lift during each stride of the run is essential for proper running form. Many novice runners tend run with minimal lift and bend at the knee while they run, essentially limiting their movement to a sort of shuffle. If this is you, send a message to your elbows: with each arm swing, drive your elbow high and back. This will send a simultaneous message to your legs to increase knee lift.
  3. Lighten the pendulum. With each stride we take while running, our arms and legs act as pendulums, swinging back and forth. The longer the pendulum, the more energy it takes to swing it. By shortening our “pendulums” (meaning our arms and legs), we can effectively increase the efficiency of each step we take while running. We waste less energy. By again sending a message to our arms, this time telling them to decrease the angle at the bend in the elbow, we simultaneously send a message to the legs to do the same at the knee during the “recovery” phase of the stride.

Use the brain-to-arm connection to help become a more efficient runner. By becoming more efficient, we can increase the return on our invested time training for the run portion of a triathlon. Greater efficiency decreases the amount of energy cost per movement, and this energy savings can be reallocated to speed or endurance.