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Whether you carry your phone while running to listen to music, for safety purposes or to track your distance and pace, if you don’t carry it correctly, you may find that it’s cramping your style.
While there are lots of different ways in which you may properly run with your phone, many people choose to simply hold it in their hand. However, this isn’t necessarily the best idea.
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Why Shouldn’t You Run Holding Your Phone?
Sure, running with your phone in your hand may not feel uncomfortable for you. Perhaps you find it convenient to have it easily accessible to be able change your music or snap a few pics as you go.
However, just because it doesn’t feel like it’s causing any problems, there are actually a few diffrent downsides
- It will most likely negatively influence your body position and gait
- Your energy expenditure may be disproportionate and unnecessarily high
- If you record your runs on your phone, its tracking accuracy may not be great
- Phone calls slow you down
- You may seriously risk damaging your cell phone
Let’s get into the nitty gritty.
Body Position and Gait
When researchers looked at what happened to people’s posture when running holding a cellphone, they found that texting completely threw out their correct movement patterns.
And, while you might not run with your phone up to your face as you do when you text, it’s still true that by running with your phone in one hand, you are throwing off your body’s natural balance.
It may seem silly because a phone hardly weighs anything, but if you’re running holding your phone, your hand, forearm and elbow aren’t in their normal position, and even the smallest imbalance over a reasonable distance can have consequences for your body’s position and stride.
This may influence the position of your shoulders, hips or leg muscles.
As one part of your body begins to alter its natural position in response to the weight imbalance, other parts tend to compensate leading to numerous issues.
You may end up with muscle strains or even other more serious injuries in the long run – they’re most likely to develop on the opposite side to the hand you’re using to hold your phone.
The last thing you want to do while running – other than getting injured – is to make yourself less efficient than necessary. Unfortunately, running with your phone in your hand is likely to do just that.
By adding the extra weight to your body, regardless of how little it is, you are increasing the difficulty of the workout – and as we’ve seen above, not in a good way! By throwing off your body’s natural balance, you’re going to have to work harder and expend more energy than you normally would.
You might think that one hand won’t matter, but one running tip any good running coach will give you is to keep the muscles in your hands relaxed while you run which then helps keep your upper back relaxed preventing you rounding forward.
Rounding forward not only makes it more likely that your back will ache, it also affects how effectively you can breath.
In fact, you’re usually told to pretend you’re holding a crisp between your thumb and your forefinger that you don’t want to crush – that’s pretty impossible if you’re also trying to keep hold of a thousand bucks worth of hardware in your hand!
For most runners, tracking your pace and distance is an essential part of the process. Unfortunately, if you’re running with your phone in your hand, your tracking accuracy isn’t necessarily accurate.
One study actually looked at how well iPhones tracked steps and distance while carrying phones in a number of positions and found that, if someone’s running gait saw them making large forward-backward arm movement while carrying their phone in their hand, the distance they were running was tracked as longer than it actually was.
Conversely, in a second trial by the same team, when people were asked to hold their phone while running, but consciously try not to swing their arms, the tracking was less than the distance they covered.
When researchers have looked into what happens when we exercise with our phones, they found that while listening to music on a phone increased speed, distance and how much people enjoyed exercise – if they were talking or texting on the phone, their speed slowed down.
If you want to make the most of your workout, having a phone somewhere where you can’t easily answer it or reply to texts might boost your workout results.
Damaging Your Phone
While you may not consider yourself the clumsy type, running with your phone in your hand puts you at serious risk of dropping and damaging it.
For most people, running means getting out of your head. Whether you’re thinking about your pace and stride or simply breathing in the fresh air around you, after a while, you’re not going to be focused on maintaining a firm grip on your phone!
Phones are simply not designed to be held during vigorous activity – they’re awkwardly sized and slippery! All it takes is losing your grip for half a second and your beloved smart phone could be flying across the street or along a trail.
Whether it goes for a swim in a puddle or suffers a cracked screen, your cell phone is unlikely to have a happy ending.
How to Run with Your Phone (Properly)
Now, none of this means you have to leave your phone behind on your next run – as we mentioned there’s lots of reasons why you might want to keep it with you, instead, pick one of the methods that let you run with your phone without messing with speed, gait or attention-span.
To do this you’re looking for something that…
Keeps the phone close to the body, which is better for accurate tracking, phone safety and not messing with your gait.
Keeps the phone close to your hips or waist and in the centre of your body using things like zippered pockets or a carefully positioned phone pouch.
Gives the phone at least some protection against the elements.
So, how do the different methods compare?
The Best Ways to Carry Your Phone While Running
Top Choice: Running Belts
A running belt is an awesome solution to running with your phone. Suitable for both men and women, they sit around your waist and allow you to carry your phone close to the centre of your body.
Some also have a built-in pocket to help you carry other running supplies like bottles of water or training sachets like Gu.
There’s also a place for keys and your emergency five bucks!
Because you can easily move them inside or outside of your clothes, they also offer some level of protection from the rain.
- Won’t throw off your natural balance
- Comfortable and snug fit
- Phone is easily accessible
- Additional little pockets
- Extra storage
- May feel bulky or tight
- If not fitted properly they can bounce or jiggle, making it uncomfortable
- Extra item to wash
The Best Running Belts
There are a few types of running belt – but, in our opinion, the best options to keep your phone secure, and not mess with your form, are FlipBelts or Fuelbelts
Here’s why we think they’re the best solution…
These thin tubes of stretchy material slip easily around your waist and you simply slide your phone within the tube. Flip it over to hide the opening and your phone is incredibly secure and held tight against your body.
- Made from combination of micropoly and lycra
- Quick drying and absorbs moisture
- Large zipper pockets
- Reflective strips
- May be washed by hand or machine
Flipbelts are a great choice if you’re a recreational runner who doesn’t want to carry lots on their run.
They do offer belts that also carry a water bottle, but we absolutely love the classic FlipBelt, for those days where you just want to run with your keys and some music.
They don’t ride up, they don’t jiggle and the hidden pocket makes everything feel safe and secure while you’re on the move.
The downside of this is that you can forget quick access – you’ll find it tricky to pull out your phone on the move.
Or, if you’re already sold, then head to the FlipBelt store to look at the range of styles and colours on offer.
Like the FlipBelt, these also sit around your waist. They normally have a small pocket to keep essentials and then elasticated hooks or pockets on the side that allow you to carry water bottles.
The downside of using these to carry a large phone is that the phone pocket also needs to be quite large and, unless the belt is done up pretty snugly, they can bounce.
Get the right fit though and they’re a great product, especially if you’re doing longer runs and/or training for something like a half marathon and need to carry extra fluid.
- Water resistant
- Adjustable fit
- Allows full range of motion
- Available in different sizes
- Quick access
One of the best brands of hydration belts is Fuel Belt. I did about 25 half marathons, and a couple of fulls, with mine and it did not let me down.
However, there’s a huge variety of styles and sizes from ‘just big enough for phone, water, keys’ to – ‘I’m pretty much bringing the house with me!’ so shop around to see which suits you best.
What About a Hydration Pack?
If you’re really racking up the miles, you might also want to look at a hydration pack as many of these also have phone pockets – but, again, make sure they fit well or they will bounce, rub and could lead to your back tiring before you’re ready.
I’d suggest getting this fitted at a running store, but that’s not possible, have a look at the Nathan range which come recommended by trail runners.
Their starter pack is the Nathan QuickStart Lite which suits both men and women
Also Great: Leggings with a Phone Pocket
Running leggings or bike-style running shorts with a specialist phone pocket provide you with a great way to run with your phone without having to use an extra piece of gear!
If you’re looking for running gear with a specialist phone pocket, the best place for this is located at the middle of your back or front. Lots of brands have these, but check they’re big enough for your phone before you buy them.
If the leggings are tight, you can get away with a side pocket – ideally, choose zippered pockets so you’re not worried about your phone falling out.
Let’s have a look at some of the pros and cons of using your leggings to hold your phone while running…
- Won’t throw off your body’s positioning
- No extra gadgets or running gear
- Easy to wash
- Easily accessible
- Versatile – may be used for heavy exertion sport or as active wear
- Pockets may not fit all phones
- Needs to be washed regularly
- Won’t protect phone from rain
- May get sweaty
- Could still cause weight imbalance depending on the position of the pocket
- Mostly aimed at and designed for, women
If you’re just looking for a solution that doesn’t need extra kit or mess with your running aesthetic, running gear with a pocket for your phone is the way to go.
Just don’t forget to take it out before you wash them!!
Best Leggings with Phone Pockets
Some of the best rated leggings with a phone pocket include those by Baleaf that’s them above).
If you want to make sure that your phone is central, then have a look at the FlipBelt leggings. These combine the FlipBelt idea into the waistband of the leggings.
This will make them super secure and also flush, centre against your body.
Best Shorts with Phone Pockets
If you prefer shorter running shorts, then again Baleaf come out really well in reviews.
Or, FlipBelt also do shorts with a FlipBelt style pocket built into the waistband and two large side pockets.
Maybe: Sports Bras With Pockets
If you’re a woman that needs to have your phone with you while running but aren’t into all the fancy gear, a sports bra with a pocket may be the thing for you.
However, be wary if stashing your phone, interferes with the fit of your sports bra, then it could alter your gait and might even slow you down (this piece on sports bra benefits you might not know about explains how and why).
- No additional gear necessary
- Good for security – your phone won’t be visible
- Cost effective
- Easy to wash
- Different types and styles available
- No easy access
- May throw off your natural positioning and create weight imbalance
- Will probably get sweaty
- May cause chafe
- Effectiveness may vary depending on body type and breast size
- May be uncomfortable and bulky
It all comes down to personal preference and what you find comfortable. A sports bra with a pocket may be a great option if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to store or hide your phone. In addition, you may choose to use it on shorter, less intense runs.
However, if you’re going to be putting in the distance, this may not be the best long-term solution to running with your phone.
Best Sports Bra with Pockets
Brooks are a specialist running brand so you know their products are made for moving and their Drive 3-Pocket Sports Bra (that’s it above) has a back pocket which means that your phone won’t mess with your gait.
Do be mindful of the conditions you’re running in though – if it’s Florida heat and humidity, you might find your phone a bit damp by the end of your run.
Not Brilliant: An Arm Band
Armbands are one of the most common ways to carry your phone while running. They save you from having to clutch onto it while you’re on the move and keep your smart phone safe and protected from the elements.
However, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies.
While an arm band may seem like a smart idea, they pose many of the same issues that you’ll face when running with your phone in your hand.
- Relatively inexpensive
- Protection from elements and sweat
- Prevents you from dropping it
- May chafe if not fitted well
- Not ideal for security – highly visible and flashy
- Affects your arm’s positioning
- Not easily accessible
- May bounce and move around
While an arm band may seem like the quickest and easiest way to carry your phone with you while running, it’s probably not the best idea in the long term especially if you have a larger, heavier phone.
If you do want to use a band for carrying your phone though, have a look at the ArmPocket Plus band which has a lot of five start reviews and is also rated by Runner’s World.
While carrying your phone in your hand while running may not feel particularly uncomfortable or unsafe, it poses several risks to both your own and your cell phone’s wellbeing!
With so many great alternatives, there’s simply no need to put your body on the line.
Whether you choose to go with a running belt, leggings or sports bras with pockets or even an arm band, you’ll be doing yourself a favour in the long run.
Who is The Wellness Nerd?
My name is Helen Foster, and I’m a health journalist and wellness author. Publications I’ve written for include Women’s Health, Reader’s Digest, Body and Soul, Good Health at the Daily Mail, and more. I have also written 16 books on health and nutrition.