Where do you keep your phone on a run? Do you stow it in your sports bra, or do you run with a waist belt or hydration vest? Or do you just hold it in your hand?
If you're in the "I just grab it and go" camp, you might want to rethink your strategy.
It may not seem like a big deal but running with a phone in hand, even though it might feel comfortable at the time, can have a detrimental effect on your running form in the long term. Running with a water bottle or another similar-sized object can have a similar impact if you consistently hold it in the same hand, experts warn.
This isn't to say that technology takes away from your workout—in fact, it does the opposite! We use our phones to listen to music or podcasts while we run, which research has found improves performance. We use them to map out running routes and access both running and strength training workouts in a growing variety of exercise apps. And of course, it's smart to have a phone in case of an emergency.
But when it comes to running, experts say it's not how you use your phone, but where you hold it, that can be harmful.
When you run with a phone in your hand, it adds some weight to one side of your body and forces your arm into an unnatural position. Good running form involves even distribution of weight across both sides of your body. When one side has extra weight, it creates an imbalance that has sneaky effects on your running gait and increases your likelihood of injury, experts say. Most people hold their phone in the same hand every time they run, and those miles add up.
"By making one arm heavier, you're altering the momentum of your limbs," says Alexa Duckworth-Briggs, professional UK Athletics running coach, in an interview with Cosmopolitan UK. "And your body will attempt to compensate for the imbalance by working certain muscles harder than others. That's where repetitive strain injuries will come into play."
At first, you may not notice anything is off. But over time, running with an extra weight in one hand can cause problems in the leg, hip, and shoulder muscles as your gait grows unbalanced.
There are other reasons why holding your phone on a run is a bad idea. When your phone is more accessible, it increases the temptation to check notifications and respond to messages. Reading texts, scrolling through social media, or writing emails while you walk or run is distracting. You could easily trip or collide with another person (or tree, or lamppost), causing a completely avoidable injury. Or you could drop your phone, creating another set of problems.
While some companies sell phone holders attached to an armband, this option still leaves you unbalanced. To protect yourself, your running form, and your phone, experts suggest running with a waist belt. This keeps your phone secured in the middle of your body and your hands free of objects that might throw your balance off-kilter.
SPIbelt is one of many options on the market that snugly holds your phone in a stretchy storage pocket to accommodate smaller or larger smartphones. An elastic waistband is key to adjust for fit, so your phone doesn't bounce while you're on the move. Our most popular bounce-free running belts, the Original Pocket SPIbelt (holds phones 6.5 inches and smaller) or the Large Pocket SPIbelt (fits all phones), are great options to keep your phone on you while you run without causing any long-term damage. Still not sure which SPIbelt is right for you? Check out this handy, dandy chart.