Why Should I Learn to Handstand?

This week I was going to start writing up about another part of your handstands but I thought I would take it back for a bit after one of my students looked at me confused when I told them that only trying handstands for one hour a week isn’t going to be sufficient enough to achieve a handstand. It takes more than that to learn how to hold your weight upsidedown.

So I have been developing my handstand over the past 15 months or so, some months I would do lots of work on them and others not so much. Even on the months with not so much time dedicated to them, I would put around 5 hours a week. Weeks that I was hyped and going mad, maybe up to 15 hours a week was spent on handstands. My very dear friend, and fellow coach at Movement Co (Mat), has been dedicating at least half an hour to an hour a day for a year now and is only of recent that he has hit consistency and been able to not just manipulate his balance but started moving his legs (hold your head up high Mat *fist bump*). It’s a long road to a handstand but both of us will tell you it is worth it. People still learn at their own pace and you could be one of those lucky ones. I have seen dancers get their handstand in a few weeks, I come from a yoga and skateboarding background so dynamic movement is no stranger to me and it really did help getting me kick started on my journey. It made a big difference too that I have never feared the handstand, you’re a lot less likely to get injured falling from your arms height than jumping over hip height handrails that go down 10+ stairs (I’m referring to my 17 years of skateboarding there). Although it maybe a progressive journey for you, every healthy adult can still achieve miraculous things through movement and I’m going to tell you why the handstand path is worth it. 

 

  • First there are so many physical health benefits; great for shoulders, wrists, back and your core will get stronger than you ever imagined possible in every position, not just the sit up position. When you are doing more than just holding a handstand next to a wall it can be turned into a whole body workout, but that is a blog for another time.
  • You will learn how to move your spine in a way you didn’t realise it could
  • Your reflexes will improve, even your ability to fall without injuring yourself.
  • Handstands and all inversions sharpen the mind, when we go upside down this increases the blood flow to the brain and with this you’ll find better concentration, processing skills and memory. Although I’m a sucker for copious amounts of coffee, whenever I’m writing blogs centered around computer work I’ll get a handstand in every now and then to stay moving during that period.
  • Think about all the organs that keep you alive, these are held in place, when we go handstanding all these are upside down too which can be a bit daunting, but what you may have not considered is that everything that holds these thing in place gets a workout when they have to stop your lungs falling out your mouth.
  • Now there are many theories and misconceptions surrounding why we are the dominate species on the planet. According to my research which is spread across from reading anatomy books, watching TED talks and banter with my more intellectual peers, our species has the most amazing ability to learn and keep movements, we have the best neuron pathways. For instance, you can teach an octopus how to do something like open a jar but they will forget this (if my memory serves me correctly) in a day or so and then it must be relearned, this is something that isn’t a problem for our species. So to challenge the brain with complex movement, ie; handstands, gymnastics, dance, skateboarding, etc, stimulates us like nothing else. If you listen to people like Ido Portal (world renowned movement specialist), they will tell you that challenging your mind with complex movement is the real secret to longevity.
  • Here is the final and the biggest one for me, they are fun. Plain and simple.

 

Scrolling through instagram and just watching the health industry as a whole I see that there are a lot of people working out to make themselves look nice through lat pulldown machines and leg presses stations, but to me it looks incredibly tedious and boring. Handstands don’t require any of that, you require ground and determination. Not once has the thought occurred to me while I train stalders or one arm handstands “Yeeeeeeeah, this is giving me good abs, people will be so impressed, maybe someone from the opposite gender may consider putting my genitals in their mouth!” What I am thinking while I handstand though is quite different to that. I’ll explain next week!

One Love,

Harry Williams
Hand Balancing and Gymnastics Coach 

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