Todays episode is about a very common misconception about handstands. I hear or see it all the time, especially around beginners.
– “I’m sure I need a lot of core strength to hold a handstand” –
Nope, you don’t… and here is why.
Your stability and ability to make balance corrections comes mainly from the coordination of your wrist-ellbow-shoulder-ribcage line, which is the foundation of your handstand.
It might be easier to understand this with a little experiment:
- stand on your legs (which is essentially the same thing as being on hands, just upsidedown)
- now close your eyes and see what happens in your body. Which part of the body is doing most of the balance work?
- now brace your abs. Does it make significant changes to your ability to balance on two legs?
It’s pretty obvious that the thing that is holding you up when standing on legs, is the whole lower part of your body, which provides a solid base. You can move your upper body around that base in any direction you want, without falling over.
It’s exactly the same thing in handstands. The only difference is that you’re upsidedown, so in this case
ankles = wrists
ellbows = knees
butt = shoulders
lower back/lower abs or your “powerhouse” = ribcage
Only when this base is strong and well coordinated, can you stack the rest of your body on top of that. Otherwise it will just collaps. And once you have this strong and stable foundation, you can move the rest of your body around it in any direction (think about pressing, flagging, mexicans, …the shoulders fight to stay in place while the rest of the body bends).
Building this foundation and refining your awareness about it is basically what you do when you practice handstands. There are obviously very different levels, but in essence, this is the main thing. To teach your body how to coordinate and use all of this until it becomes automatic and intuitive.
Handbalancing is very specific and no amount of conditioning, floor work or flexibility will help you to actually improve your ability to handstand per se. The only way to do that is to actually do handstands and work with whatever stage you can work with at the moment. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do all of the other work. It’s great for preparation. What I’m meaning to say is, don’t get stuck in it. Put it into the context of a handstand. So go ahead and work on balance, shoulder strength, handstand endurance and shoulder placement.
I will make more episodes about these areas to work on, but if you are interested in anything specific, let me know in the comments below, so I can prioritize!
The world is your playground, so go and have fun – just do whatever you love 🙂