When they start fitness walking, lots of walkers wonder what good their arms will do. They quickly realise that they are essential for walking efficiently. By moving your arms you can pace your walking and increase your speed, as well as toning your muscles.
Emmanuel Lassalle, a long-distance walker, practises his arm movement during each of his training sessions. Here he gives us some tips and a list of errors to avoid!
MOVING YOUR ARMS: WHAT'S THE POINT?
Moving your arms has a huge impact on the rhythm of your fitness walking stride.
It is essential to focus on this movement because, by working as metronomes, your arms will give your fitness walking session its pace. Using your arms as you walk helps you save energy, walk more efficiently, and give your upper body muscles a workout. For me, this movement is just as important as your foot movement because it works your obliques and tones your waist.
What is more, the movement of your arms and lower body is linked. The faster and more energetically you move your arms, the faster you will walk. My arms also help me to regulate my breathing.
HOW TO DO THE RIGHT ARM MOVEMENT
As with every fitness walking movement, your arm motion should be as smooth as possible. When moving energetically, it should be done without any tension in order to avoid shoulder, neck and back pain.
To get used to doing the right movement, I recommend you practise finding the right position naturally, in front of a mirror. This is also a good way of warming up before going out!
1 – THE STARTING POSITION
your elbow should be bent at 90° without you having to force it. It is your elbow, and not your hand, that should guide your movement.
your shoulders should be relaxed, neither too high nor too low,
your fists should be closed but not clenched in order to maintain a maximum amount of mobility.
2 – BALANCE
The idea is to move like a pendulum, swinging from front to back, guided by your elbow. To mobilise your shoulders, you will need to "explore" a bit further than you are used to on the backward swing. It is this backward movement that propels your walking.
Your arm should match what your opposite leg is doing: when your left arm is forward, your left foot is back.
When they swing, your arms naturally pass at the middle of your body. Your hand shouldn't drop below your waist or past your hips and should never reach higher than your sternum, otherwise you risk losing your propulsion and, above all, hitting yourself in the face!
THE FIVE MOST COMMON ERRORS
Crossing your arms as you walk.
Clenching your fists
Having your arms dangling straight down next to your body
Reaching too high with your hand
Moving stiffly, which can cause tension and lead to arm, shoulder and back pain.