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Running Checklist: Upper Body

Exercise is a great way to relieve tension, but if you're running with your shoulders next to your ears, not only are you missing out on some of running's benefits, you're compromising your form as well. When out for your next run, take some time to mentally go through this checklist to ensure your upper body is relaxed and your form is up to par.

  • Shoulders: Your shoulders should be away from your ears, and slightly back to open your chest. If you find them raised try this little exercise: inhale and actively raise your shoulders toward your ears, and with a big, percussive exhale, let them fall. Repeat two or three times and as needed during your run.
  • Elbows: Your elbows should be bent to 90 degrees. This means that you should not be hitting your shoulders or your thighs with your fists.

To see the rest of the checklist,


  • Hands: Your hands should be in a soft fist. A tense fist creates tense arms and wasted energy, as you recruit muscles that don't help your running. If you find your hands balled into fists, try this: lower your arms to your sides and open your palms wide for a few strides, give your arms a shake, then bring your hands back to running position. Hopefully they will be more relaxed.
  • Swing: Make sure your arms are not swinging past the mid-line of your body. Side to side motion in your arm swing steals energy away from your forward motion. Imagine holding a volleyball with your hands just above your belly button — that is as close to the center of your body as your arm swing should be.

Please share any tension-relieving tricks you use on your runs in the comments section below.

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