The right arm movement for giving your upper body a workout

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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

  1. Crossing your arms as you walk. 

  2. Clenching your fists

  3. Having your arms dangling straight down next to your body

  4. Reaching too high with your hand

  5. Moving stiffly, which can cause tension and lead to arm, shoulder and back pain.

 

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Walking benefits

Why do they say that fitness walking is a complete sport? Fitness walking, active or fast, works not only lower muscles. In addition to working out the thighs and gluteals, fitness walking also strengthens the entire upper body, especially the arms and abdominals.

Techniques and tips

Having the right posture during fitness walking is good for your back.Thanks to this, long-distance walker Emmanuel Lassalle, was able to look after his bad back: "I started speed walking after an injury, at a time when I was having 4 lower back spasms per year. In a few months, these spasms disappeared and became a distant memory!"

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Techniques and tips

After warming up and at the end of a session, these stretching exercises will do a world of good to your back, neck and shoulder muscles. You can even do them on a daily basis, to eliminate tension due to stress!

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