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Copyright 2012
Club Northwest
RACEWALKING by Stan Chraminski


The arms and shoulders should be relaxed and comfortable. Begin by walking with the arms held loosely at your sides and just move them back and forth naturally as you walk. Your shoulders should feel relaxed and the arms should move effortlessly. To change to racewalking style, simply bend your elbows to 85-90 degree angles and keep the rest of the motion the same. Keep the arms low. The "stroke" of the forearm should be back and forth at waist band level. Don't bring the hands up too high in front - not past mid-chest level- and do not cross over the body's midpoint. You want back and forth motion, without too much side to side movement.

Keep the elbows in close to the body and avoid the "chicken wing" look. Your arms help you keep rythym and balance and propel you forward. Too much side to side motion works against you. By bending the elbows in an L shape, you can move your arms back and forth faster than with straight arms. You are cutting down on the length of the pendulum formed by the arms and can move them in short, precise movements. Remember, your stride should have more length in the back than the front and the arms should correspond. Your hands should be relaxed but keep the wrists straight. I've found a loose fist to be helpful to keep your arms driving forward. Make an "O" with your thumb and index finger and the rest of the fingers will follow. Turning your hand so the palm is turned slightly toward the ground helps keep your arms low. Pointing your thumb up tends to lift your arms up too high in front and also might cause lifting of your feet off the ground, breaking the rules of racewalking.

Review (to view an animation, click here.)
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Let's review the basics once again.

  • Toes up with a short stride.
  • Land with a straight knee and keep it straight until you must bend it to push off.
  • Place feet on a straight line while walking to rotate the hips.
  • Arms bent into an "L" shape and relaxed at the shoulders.
  • Drive forearms low across the waist band.