Handstands are the ultimate party piece, whether it’s wowing colleagues at the office party or mucking around on the beach. But they also require a phenomenal amount of strength, flexibility and coordination, making them a fantastic way to challenge your body and embrace the magic of movement.
The split leg variation of the handstand is probably the easiest to master. Your legs work as levers in a similar way a tightrope walker uses the beam, helping to keep your balance. Most people will try to step towards a wall, plant your hands and kick your legs up until you slap against the wall, then try and find their balance. This will merely give you sore heels.
A kinder – and smarter – way is to face away from the wall, place your hands on the floor and slowly walk your feet up the wall, shuffling your hands back as you go, until you’re vertical. Here are the key steps to help you master the move from BODYISM Performance Specialist Jen, and below are three exercises that will give you the foundations to nail this party piece.
STEP 1: THE PUSH OFF
Don't throw yourself upside down. Instead, gently push off into your handstand one leg at a time. Kick off from one leg, delaying the push off of the other in order to be able to find that mid air balance where one leg has overtaken the other.
For beginners, weakness in your trunk and shoulders or restrictions in mobility can result in your push off ending in a bridge position as you fall on the other side of your starting position. Make sure you practice your bridge and even if you're on a sandy beach warm-up your back with some gentle downward dogs, side bends and side twists prior to getting upside down. For the sake of a cool Insta picture it's not worth getting injured!
STEP 2: THE BALANCING ACT
Look into the floor as your proprioceptive reference point so you can adjust your balance. Your hands pushing into the floor are also key to stabilising your shoulder position and overall balance. There's a lot of hand weight shifting training and mobility training behind the strengthening process. Make sure you warm up your wrists and mobilise your shoulders before launching into the move.
STEP 3: THE DISMOUNT
The trick to any handstand is learning how to fall out of it. This will remove any fear that’s stopping your progression. My circus trainer always used to say, "It's not about how you get upside down, it's about accepting you will fall and learning to recover correctly if you do”. Until you’ve mastered your handstand, have fun learning how to fall safely.