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 Bonnie Stein

          Bonnie Stein, M.Ed.

Arm Yourself for Fast Walking

By Bonnie Stein, M.Ed.

We've all seen them in our neighborhoods. Flapping elbows pointing right and left, looking like they're ready for lift-off. They're the walkers who give fast walking a bad name. Or, at least make walking look rather strange. When done properly, racewalking looks far from strange. It looks so smooth, so fluid, like poetry in motion. Using proper mechanics with your arms is so important that I teach it the first night in my Beginning Racewalking classes. In fact, I've always felt that even if I never see a walker after the first week of class, if I can teach him proper arm technique his walking workout will be enhanced 100 percent. Hopefully, he'll want to come back for the five other techniques that will rev up his walking speed.

Elbows - The elbows are ideally bent at a 90 degree angle. Elbows should be held in, close to the body. When you point your elbows out, you encourage lateral motion instead of forward motion. For a walker who wants to walk faster, sideways is not where you want to go. Lateral motion is simply inefficient. Plus, it looks funny. Think about being streamline, like a rocket. Another tip: pretend that you're walking down a skinny hallway. That will keep your elbows in to avoid getting "concrete reinforcement."

Fists - Fists should be loosely closed and kept low - below the sternum, but pointing up, higher than the elbows. You know you've got the angle right when you can feel your thumb brush your waistband during every stroke of the arm forward and backward. If your thumbs are brushing at your pockets, or worse - at your thighs, then your arms (pendulums) are too long. And there's nothing worst than long, slow pendulums.

Shoulders - Once your elbows are positioned properly, it's time to concentrate on the shoulders. Imagine that the shoulder joint is a hinge. Your shortened pendulums (arms) move forward and backward comfortably on that hinge. There's no punching forward and no yanking back. Keep your shoulders down and relaxed. It's one of the hardest things for new racewalkers to master: They're concentrating so hard on their techniques that their shoulders are being worn as earrings. When you're racewalking, pretend that the heaviest part of your arm is your elbow. Once your elbow drops down a bit, the shoulder will probably follow.

Another tip to check if you've tightened up: about every five minutes, take an extra big breath and exhale strongly. When you exhale, your shoulders will drop down to where they're supposed to be. The racewalkers in class have me to keep nagging them about their shoulders: you have to remind yourself.

 
2007 by Bonnie Stein. All Rights Reserved.

LIMITS OF LIABILITY AND DISCLAIMER - The authors and publishers of this newsletter have used their best efforts in preparing the articles and information contained within it. Additionally, you are advised to consult with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. The authors and publishers make no warranty of any kind, expressed or implied, and shall not be liable in the event of incidental or consequential damages.

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