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Ask Bill Begg!

Skating's top coach answers your questions

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World renowned speed coach Bill Begg shares his vast knowledge of skating every week in his "Ask Bill Begg!" column on the Inline Planet.

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May 12, 2010

Can You Overdo Arm Swing?

QHi, Bill. I am confused about arm swing. I understand the forward swing. But how far should the arm go on the back swing? Is there a risk of hyper-extending your shoulder? - Nadine

Hi, Nadine: Most top skaters swing their arms back to form an angle of between 30 and 50 degrees. Any less than 30 degrees and you don't get the full benefit of arm swing.

Arm swing starts with your arm coming forward and brushing your hip. Next your arm bends at the elbow and your hand comes up to nearly touch your face on the far side of your nose.

Then comes the back swing with the arm flying back and up and straightening out behind your body. For full speed, your arm should swing back as far as it can without causing your shoulder to twist.

In skating, your arms and legs must work together. You cannot fully extend your push without a full forward and back arm swing. You'll notice that whenever elite skaters need speed — such as when they are sprinting or accelerating hard — their arms swing high up over their backs.

You might think this could cause injury. But I don't know of any skaters who have hyper-extended their shoulders by swinging too much. Of course, you should listen to your body. If you feel pain in your shoulders during back arm swing, you're probably going too far.

(Sorry about this short reply. I picked up a bad dose of the flu in China and was on a drip in the hospital and am still not at full strength.)

Cheers, Bill

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