Beans has decided to drill us on handstands. We’ve been doing various little drills for a couple of weeks now. At the very end of last Friday’s class, she marched us up to the huge mirror wall and insisted we do wall handstands. «This’ll probably be the last thing I ever do», I thought before trying. Then, everything went NOT accoring to my expectations. This often happens in Beans’ class. She often pushes us to do floorwork and jumps with occasional acrobatic elements – stuff that looks terribly hard but that you find yourself suddenly being able to do after just a bit of practice. Anyway, handstands.
What I expected to happen:
- My arms buckling
- Collapsing in a heap on the floor
- Breaking my back in three places
- Dying of fright
- The wall mysteriously disappearing to let me fall over on my back
What actually happened:
- I did a wall handstand
As I’ve mentioned before, I suffer from life-long noodle arms. I have never been able to do a cartwheel. My push-ups and pull-ups were extremely limited even at the height of my karate career. (I compensated by having excellent high kick technique and flexibility. Brag-braggity-brag.) And now, without any specific training, I suddenly learn that not only can I do a wall hand stand, it’s not even particularly hard.
The thing that surprised me most is how little your actual arms have to do with it. Beans told us to push into the floor, avoiding hanging through in the shoulders or arching our lower backs. You have to keep your arms straight and your fingers engaged. Other than that, the arms don’t do all that much. (Fun fact: the muscles that move your fingers are in your lower arms.)
Like many other things, this seems obvious in retrospect. If you keep your arms straight, the weight translates through the bones, because the human body is amazing like that. It’s like the difference between standing on straight legs and hanging around in a demi-plié. I mostly feel the handstands in my trapezius and my core. My traps are divas and drama queens, but they do perfectly fine during handstands: no cramps, no neck pain on the next day. The core seems to be much more important than the arms. I get a distinct feeling that collapsing in a heap on the floor has nothing to do with the arms but could very well be induced by letting go of your core. But you who read this are probably a dancer, so you know allllll about the core.
And that, to my great surprise, is basically it. Push into the floor, hold that core and you’re peachy. Here’s proof of concept, kindly recorded by my mom at the gym yesterday.
If I can do this, so can you. I would like to emphasize that I still cannot do even a single proper push-up and pull-ups are so beyond me it’s not even funny. It’s also the second time I have ever tried wall handstands, and already I can hold a veeery shaky balance off the wall for a veeeery brief second. (I swear, it seems so much longer when you’re doing it. Who sped up my video? -.-)
The only drawback of this whole thing is that I’m getting such a kick of being able to do this, I want to do it all the time. I see a free wall and I feel the urge to do a handstand. Probably not a good idea though.
Verdict: handstands are probably not as far away as you think. Go warm up and do some! And if you need some help, here’s a source of information with a bonus ton of Star Wars references.
Have you done handstands at some point? Got any pro tips or experiences? Please share!