Technique > Upper Body and Waist > ARMS

Figure 1.
Marinelli Study
race walking in slow motion
The arms provide a counterbalance to the movement of the thighs.
PATTERN OF ARM MOTION:  The arms swing in the opposite direction from the thigh on the same side.
  • They should swing at an angle of no more than 30 degrees inward (in front of the body) from the direction of travel and should not, under any circumstances, be allowed to swing from side to side more than they swing fore and aft.
  • They should swing in a straight line close to the body with the hands traveling from just behind the side seams of the pants (almost clearing the plane of the back) to about sternum (breast) height in front. Allowing the hands to cross the centerline of the chest will probably cause the hips to swing too far sideways, and swinging the arms any higher than the sternum may cause a bounce that draws the attention of the judges.
  • The link between arm swing and leg swing usuallly can be observed in the following way. If you want to extend your step length behind your body, swing your arms further behind your body--and the legs will usually follow suit. (To swing your arms further back, you may need to shorten the distance you swing them in front of your body.)

Figure 2.
AGGRESSIVENESS:  The arm swing should reflect the aggressiveness of the leg swing; not being significantly more or less aggresive. The arm swing, however, can often be used to set the tone for the leg swing; stepping up the aggressiveness of the arm swing can help you achieve a more aggressive leg swing. (Figure 2 illustrates a very aggressive arm swing.)
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