5 - HOW TO HOLD AND USE YOUR SHOULDERS
1. One of the most difficult habits to break in learning to race walk is the tendency to raise the shoulders as you go faster. That habit does nothing to help you race walk and wastes a lot of energy. New walkers need to concentrate on keeping the shoulders relaxed and low -- and keep them there as they pick up speed.
2. There is also a tendency to raise and lower the shoulders in syncronization with the arm swing. While the upper torso may rotate about the spine as a counterbalance to the hips rotation, there should not be any up-and-down motion as one walks. But look at the race walker at right, you say. She is dropping her shoulder as she brings her arms forward. You are right, and she is a very good race walker who has learned how to do it. As a beginner, however, you would be better off not imitating her right away. [see Note below]
3. In focusing on keeping the shoulders relaxed and low, do not go so far as to push the shoulders below their natural, relaxed position. And, do not allow yourself to slouch in trying to achieve low shoulders.
Note: Top race walkers often do things that I have told you not to do. It is not that I am telling you the wrong thing. It is a matter of such behavior requiring a lot practice before you can use them to advantage. As a beginner, it is better for you to stick to the basics.
To watch this Italian race walker in even slower-motion or frame by frame, go to the Video Studies
section of eRaceWalk.com.