Where Do You Need Mobility and Flexibility for Press Handstand?
- Shoulder Flexibility - Ability for extending the arms overhead for straight alignment
- Scapula Mobility - Ability to control the scapulas for press work to bear the bodyweight
- Hamstring Flexibility - Bringing the legs towards the torso for press to handstand
- Hip Flexor Flexibility - Important for core compression
- Wrists Flexibility - Leaning forward for bringing the shoulders passing over the wrists
- Spinal Mobility - Arching the lower spine to lift your legs over the shoulders to float
How Do You Gain Necessary Mobility and Flexibility?
The most common and best approach by far is the hold/relax and contract/relax methods to loaded stretching that increase your range of motion and flexibility. Movements taken to the edge of their range of motion with weights are as effective or potentially more effective than static stretching (*refer to below explanation about different stretching method). The goal is to “reset” your muscles’ spindle sensitivity by application of force and then relaxation at your end range of motion. This will signal to your body that it is safe when you apply end-range force, and it utilizes the body’s natural reflex to relax muscles after a sustained contraction.
In this article, I would like to introduce some effective stretch and mobility drills which is helpful to improve your handstand skill and prevent potential injuries. Make these drills a daily routine whenever it fits for you. Just make time for it. Habits are hard to break. Just like brushing the teeth, repeat, keep doing it, and don’t stop. If you do nothing to maintain your range of motion, your body will tighten back up. This is why mobility and flexibility work is important.
Because many people have shortened hamstrings from sitting too long on the chair in daily life, hamstring stretches is benefitial for overall health.
Hip flexor stretch
Key Understanding - Isometrics at the edge of your range of motion
The only way to move into a new range of motion is to move to the edge of your current range and allow your body to conform to the length increases.
Here are the two ways to load stretches to increase flexibility:
• Isometrics at the edge of your range of motion
• Eccentrics through the range of motion to the end range
Isometric holds can be held at the end range for sustained lengths of time from 30-60 seconds, increasing the repetitions of end range holds, loaded with incremental one-pound weights, or any combination of the above. Eccentrics can be performed with a uniform lowering through the movement (with or without a hold at the end), with increased repetitions, or loaded incrementally.
The effectiveness depends on how your body responds. Every person is different, so feel free to experiment and figure out what works best for you.
When you understand the concept of end-range work, discomfort without pain, and nervous system relaxation, you understand how various systems allow you to make improvements in flexibility.
When you can troubleshoot your workouts and flexibility work, you can discover the method that works best for you. You do not have to buy tons of programs or go to a “guru” to help you make progress.
Excerpt From: Steven Low. “Overcoming Gravity: A Systematic Approach to Gymnastics and Bodyweight Strength (Second Edition).”
Static stretching is the most commonly used stretching technique. For most individuals, it is the easiest to perform, and it can readily be done either passively or actively. In static stretching, you extend a particular muscle or group of muscles until you feel increased tension or slight discomfort and then hold the position, usually 15 to 60 seconds. This allows the muscles, fascia, ligaments, and tendons to gradually lengthen, but it can decrease the ability of the nerves to activate the muscle properly. The lengthening of the muscle and joint’s connective tissue and the lengthening of the muscle sarcomeres results in a loss of muscle tension, and this coupled with decreased excitability can lead to reduced muscle performance.
Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching:
PNF usually involves passive stretching combined with isometric muscle contraction either throughout the joint’s range of motion or at the end of the range of motion. After moving through the complete range of motion, the muscle is relaxed and rested before it is stretched again. Contracting a fully stretched muscle against resistance relaxes the myotatic reflex and allows a stretch greater than normal.
Dynamic stretching is a more functionally oriented stretch that uses sport-specific actions to move limbs through a slightly greater range of motion. Dynamic stretching is generally characterized by swinging, jumping, or other exaggerated movements in which the momentum of the movement carries the limbs up to or slightly past the regular limits of the range of motion. The movements are held for less than 3 seconds. Because the stretch is held for a short time, the muscle can lengthen without a reduction in muscle tension or muscle excitability. It also activates a proprioceptive reflex response. The proper activation of the proprioceptors coupled with the maintenance of muscle tension enables the nerves that activate the muscle cells to fire.
Ballistic stretches use bouncing movements and do not involve holding the stretch for any length of time. Ballistic stretching can increase the range of motion quickly by using the bodyweight or momentum from each bounce to extend the muscles past their normal range of motion.
Conclusion: Gain Necessary Mobility and Flexibility for Handstands
Find your weakness and work on it. For handstands, you will need all necessary components like puzzles. The missing piece must be collected for your success.
- Shoulder Flexibility
- Scapula Mobility
- Hamstring + Hip Flexor Flexibility
- Wrists Flexibility
- Spinal Mobility
Please feel free to comment with any questions or feedback on the blog. I am happy to hear from you.
Happy handstanding! See you in my next article. My next blog post will be released next Thursday.