Over the last 30 years, one of the ways that Parisi Speed School has helped produce some of the fastest athletes at the NFL Combine is by addressing arm action during sprinting. Arm action is a critical part of proper running technique.
In fact, the faster your arms go, the faster your legs go.
Arm action is taught by initially positioning your elbow joint at a 90 degree angle as it rotates at the shoulder. Why? A long lever is a SLOW LEVER. By making your half the length, everything gets much faster. Think about a hitter in baseball… using a really long bat would move really slow, but using a really short bat could be fast – it’s the same with the arms.
The hand proceeds to move from the cheek to the back pocket. When an athlete has good postural alignment, their one elbow will drive back and down and the elbow angle will open at the hip to almost 180 degrees and then close to 90 degrees when passing the hip into full shoulder extension.
As the arm and hand returns forward the elbow angle will close to 60-90 degrees again at the top near cheek position. During each action, the hands are open and extended or slightly closed as if the athletes were holding two eggs in their hands. Why? If the athlete runs with closed fists, this creates tension in the shoulders which will make the athlete slower.
As the arm action moves smoothly without tension, athletes should focus 100% of their energy on hammering the hands and elbows backward violently on each stride and not think much about returning the arms forwards. Why? The stored elastic energy in the tendons and fascia of the pectoralis major and anterior deltoid will help perform this forward arm action swing task naturally.
- 90 degrees on front side
- 120 degrees on back side
- Hands open and relaxed with no wrist flexion
- Elbow drives down and back and separates from the rib cage
Your athletes should be able to see and feel their arm action contribute to their speed and increase their force application and stride frequency.