Why Core Strength will not improve your Handstand

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:

  1. stand on your legs (which is essentially the same thing as being on hands, just upsidedown)
  2. now close your eyes and see what happens in your body. Which part of the body is doing most of the balance work?
  3. 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 🙂

-Soundschi <3


4 thoughts on “Why Core Strength will not improve your Handstand

  1. Thank you for this! I lack core strength and can handstand just fine…however, puppy presses do need core right? Or any kind of presses need core?

    Also wanted to ask something about wrist safety/care. I sometimes overdo it with handstands and my wrists get really sore. It becomes so painful to just flex my hand and that little bone popping out of my wrist (don’t know what its called :D) really hurts and the area around it mainly. Am I injuring myself? It takes about a week to completely go back to normal..how can I avoid this from happening? If you could check out my instagram (nour_yoga) could you also look at my handstand alignment? My arms are not completely straight and I don’t quite know how to improve it? Are my shoulders or wrists that need working on? Just want you to see what it looks like so you can judge. Thank you so much for your help! 🙂

    1. Hi Nour! Thank you so much for your comment! I just saw it now because for some reason I didn’t get a notification, so sorry for that. You are right about the presses. The more your upper body bends towards the floor, the more the core will have to be engaged, but also your shoulders will have a lot more weight on them, so they as well will have to resist gravity even more.
      Thanks for sharing your Instagram, I will check it out and write you a PM :).

    1. Thanks! Hahaha you should have seen him in the background going crazy because of the heat

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