As a Massage Therapist, I am often asked how I became/remain strong. My secret is handstands!
There’s no question that most adults, no matter how strong
or athletic they are, are intimidated by handstands.
But just because you didn’t take gymnastics as a kid and are scared to death of
falling on your head when attempting them doesn’t mean you should avoid
Because not only are handstands fun, they’re actually really
good for you.
Why handstands are so awesome:
They make your upper body naturally and evenly strong
In order to stay in a handstand for any amount of time, you need to be able to
actually hold yourself upside down—meaning you’ll be bearing your full weight
on your hands for a short period of time.
And yes, it can be pretty tiring, but they’re worth it: handstands strengthen
pretty much every muscle in your arms, shoulders, and upper body, making them
one of the most beneficial upper body exercises you can do.
Do handstands often, and you’ll notice you feel stronger and more confident in
Practice a controlled return of your feet to the floor and you will build core strength.
More fun than crunches right!?
Because they require you to stabilize your muscles to keep from falling over,
handstands not only work your abs, they also strengthen your hip flexors,
hamstrings, inner thigh muscles, and spinal muscles to create a balanced,
Frequent handstand practice will skyrocket your balancing abilities—but you’ll
have to get over your fear of falling first (tip: practice on a soft surface
like grass or a mat, not on concrete!).
They help with bone health, circulation and breathing.
When you’re upside down in a handstand, your normal blood floor inverts,
increasing circulation to your upper body while relieving pressure on your feet
They also benefit your spine, increase bone health in your wrists, arms and
shoulders, and stretch your diaphragm, your main breathing muscle, which in
turn increases blood flow to your lungs.
They can boost your mood and regulate your metabolism
Being upside down not only makes you stronger, it can actually boost your mood,
since the extra blood flow to your brain can energize and calm you when you’re
feeling down or stressed out.
Handstands can even reduce production of the stress hormone, cortisol, helping
to relieve minor depression and anxiety. Plus, since handstands stimulate the
thyroid and pituitary glands, they can actually help regulate your metobolic
rate—meaning daily handstand practice could help you maintain (or reach) a healthy
How to do a handstand:
Face toward the wall, place your hands on the ground shoulder width apart, approx. 10 cm away from the wall. Kick up your legs into a handstand. Try not to slam your feet/back/butt onto the wall and practice control.
When you've got that down, try working to remove your feet from leaning on the wall. Try slowing returning your feet to the floor by engaging your abdominal muscles.
Every day (or at least 5 days a week), do three handstands against a wall
for as long as you can.
Rest 10-20 seconds in between sets, and focus on form the entire time. Try to
aim for a total of at least 90 seconds.
If your arms start shaking, don’t worry—that’s a good sign you’re building up
Ready? Go rock some handstands!