Figure 1.
Marinelli Study
race walking in slow motion
The upper body refers to the shoulders, elbows, arms, and hands. In race walking, as in running, this area of the body operates as an integrated unit that plays a supporting role in helping the lower body propel the body forward and in helping to balance the body. To appreciate the value of proper upper-body technique in race walking, you only need to try race walking with your straightened arms taped to the side of your body and your shoulders held in a static position.
Because it fits nowhere else, I also include the waist in this discussion.
Figure 1 at right is part of the Marinelli Study in the Video Studies section of this Web site, and illustrates the technical aspects of upper body usage discussed on this page. This study is used here because the walker uses shoulder movement quite extensively. No suggestion is being made, however, that her technique is the one you should, or should not, use. (At about 68 steps per minute--on my computer screen, this slow-motion animation shows her walking at about one third her racing speed.)

WAIST:  The waist plays an important role in race walking, but it gets little or no attention in the literature on technique. The waist is the area of the body that
  • uses the rotation and drop of the shoulders to balance that of the hips,
  • uses the swing of the arms to balance the swing of the legs, and
  • uses any side sway of the upper body and to balance that of the lower body.
If you look closely at Figure 1, you will notice that everything going on above the waist is the opposite of everything going on below the waist. This area of the body is sometimes referred to as the "core" of the body, and it needs to be strong and flexible to perform its assigned tasks.
return to top