Arm Action

Why does my arm seem to tense up when I drive my hands down, are there any cues to correct this action?

I would think that application of force would make it tense up. Hopefully it is not tense the entire time.

There are a number of reasons why this might happen, among then the holding of the arms with the angle at the elbow too narrow- or in some cases too wide.
Another potential cause is the attempt to apply a higher rate to the arm drive than the legs can respond to.
The usual remedy is to start from a 90d angle at the elbow and apply force up to the level- but never beyond the point where relaxation can be maintained.
There is a substantial segment on arm action in the archives.

Originally posted by Charlie Francis
Another potential cause is the attempt to apply a higher rate to the arm drive than the legs can respond to.

Charlie, during races, do you see athletes trying to pump the arms as fast as possible - is there any way to change the focus besides just telling the athlete to relax?

Should I drive down with the arm almost fully extended or should I keep it close to 90degrees?

The arm will naturally open up while driving the elbow down/back, but if you hammer the arm straight down, you lose force production. If you think about every action having an equal reaction, then when driving the arms back, will help propel the body forward. If the arm is hammered, then you may lose some of this effect.

Sorry to dig this post up again, but after watching the BJ episode last night and today’s training, it got me thinking.

In one of the interviews, Ben Johnson described his 9.79 metaphorically as “flying through space”. (As if he were not conciously thinking about anything while racing).

I always see people advising to think about nothing but ‘pumping the arms’.
Since sprinting is a hindbrain activity, why should you think about pumping the arms at all? Why not just go on automatic after the initial hand flick at the start.

If I think about pumping my arms, I may try to pump them too fast (particular if I’m in a race trying to get ahead) which would cause my shoulders to lock up.

Once correct technique is in place (ingrained after many training sessions) why can’t you just sprint and not think conciously of anything? I believe this would ensure zero tension?

What are your thoughts?

It’s probably as you say and like other technical points it’s something that has to be programmed into the auto pilot during practice/training. It’s true if everything is totally automatic there is not a need for cueing but focus on one thing at a time during different parts of a race might be helpful. If someone’s start is a weakness and assuming they are in a good set position, I think the cue of just flicking the arm(not muscling) out or forward can be of assistance. If everything is automatic, I agree, there is not much of a need to think about anything. I believe that most, though, do need to focus on something even though we want to limit this cueing to a minimum so as to not lock up the athlete.