Handstands are not just for kids!

April 19

The Handstand Is Not Just For Kids!

 

Learning to do a handstand may seem impossible when just starting out. After all, getting into the stance can come with a number of risks (namely injury...and potential embarrassment). Once the building blocks are in place, the handstand is a great conditioning tool as it engages multiple muscles in the body. It can be pulled out of the bag to impress on the beach or as a party trick for any occasion.  

If you really want to learn and improve your handstand, you have to spend more time on your hands so a suggestion would be daily practice, little and often. 

Practicing downward dog with leg lifts is a great way to condition for handstands—it strengthens the upper body and stretches the entire spine. Common handstand errors include palms rolled inward or not facing forward, shoulders crunched up to ears, a collapsed back, and overarching. Work on fixing these form errors with basic postural conditioning before you even begin. First up, prepare by sitting down on the floor, facing the wall, and press your feet into the wall. Note the distance, then flip over, and place your hands where you were seated, your feet in front of the wall. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart with fingers spread, rotated forward. Essentially, you're in a downward-dog position. From here, practice rocking all your weight to the front of your feet, until you're on the tip toes.

Next, walk your feet up the wall behind you. If your arms feel strong enough to handle the weight, keep walking up the wall, activating your arms, shoulders, chest, and core. Continue this until you feel confident, stable, and strong. Make sure you aren't hyperextending your elbows—keeping a slight bend limits the impact on the arm joints and also prevents the arms from caving in. Stabilize your entire body by pulling in your abdomen and engaging your core. To prevent your shoulders from coming up to your ears, lift from your lower belly. Your legs should always be engaged.

Next, lift one leg up. Extend feet and toes which will help to engage the entire body, crucial for stability.

When you're ready, gently kick off that wall. The first time you do this, you may want to get a spotter to help you out. Also, make sure the room is clear of furniture and add some soft padding for those over enthusiastic moments. If you feel unstable, just reach your feet back toward the wall. For safety it’s important to be able to cartwheel out of the handstand should you feel you are toppling over. You will inevitably need to turn out sideways and step the foot down to avoid crashing at some stage.

Keep in mind that kicking up requires strong arms, shoulders, core, and back. For a successful handstand, you'll be engaging all your muscles equally, even the fine muscles in your hand for balance. 

That's why building up that strength and practicing proper alignment beforehand is crucial. Yes, this will take time and patience—but remember that this is a journey—one that's sure to strengthen both your body and mind.

 

 

 

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