Let’s get one thing straight: you do not need to be an Olympic gymnast to do handstands. You’re never too old to learn and, once you’ve read these 8 reasons for incorporating them into your daily routine, you’ll want to start reaping the benefits
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The benefits of handstands are surprisingly far-reaching. Of course, there are physical gains, but did you know there’s a handful of psychological benefits too? Here’s just a few reasons to include them in your daily routine, and our handy beginner's guide to instant handstand success so you can get started.
Handstand benefit #1: Improve strength
Holding the weight of your body on your hands requires strength in a range of muscles including your shoulders, wrists, core and back. As you learn to handstand, these parts of your body strength and benefit not only athletic performance but also cross-over into everyday life: you’ll sit with better posture, stand straighter and enjoy more suppleness.
Handstand benefit #2: Boosts coordination
You don’t need me to tell you that handstands require concentration and coordination. Challenging your body to learn a handstand encourages new neural pathways to develop and improve the connection between what your mind is asking and your body is doing.
Handstand benefit #3: Stress reduction
Increasing blood flow to the brain relieves short term depression and anxiety as well as reducing the production of the stress hormone cortisol. The focus needed to learn a handstand requires you steal yourself away from your current worries - focussing on a simple task is well-known to benefit mental health.
Stressed at work? Head to the board room and do some handstands – they’re a great stress-buster
Handstand benefit #4: Develop patience
Handstands are not easy but – within reason – can be learnt by anyone. They require patience and, in an age when we’re used to getting what we want immediately, this is a welcome skill to develop. Much like yoga.
Handstand benefit #5: Improve bone density
As a weight-bearing exercise, handstands will help strengthen your bones and make the development of osteoporosis in later life less likely.
Handstand benefit #6: Improve digestive health
When you’re inverted, gravity acts on our digestive system from the opposite direction and any stuck material or trapped gases (careful!) can be relieved. Anything we can do to improve gut health brings far-reaching gains.
Handstand benefit #7: Alleviates desk-bound issues
When sitting for long periods in an unnatural position – like at a desk in front of a computer - fluids build in our legs, feet and ankles. Inverting yourself even momentarily redistributes of blood, flushes the legs and reduces the discomfort of sitting all day long.
Ok, so doing handstands at work or in your bedroom might not be super-exotic, but the mood boost will leave you on Cloud 9
Handstand benefit #8: They’re fun
There’s something very child-like about handstands. They lighten the mood and feel more like ‘play’ than ‘exercise’, and who doesn’t want more play in their lives?
How to learn handstands
Learning handstands can seem daunting, but like all things it’s a case of breaking it down into manageable chunks and there are a few variations to make the learning process simpler. From the outset, place mats or cushions around you in case (when) you take a tumble.
Handstands for beginners:
- The easiest hand-standing intro is to begin by standing with your back to a wall
- Place your hands on the ground and walk your feet backwards up the wall
- Slowly walk your hands towards the wall. This will decrease the pressure on your shoulders and require more balance
- Once you’re as upright as you feel comfortable, splay your fingers and keep your hands shoulder width apart – your upper arms should be touching your ears
- This will feel hard at first as you’ll be recruiting muscles that probably haven’t been activated for a while. Persevere, though, because you’ll improve quickly.
There’s a tonne of handstand variations you can learn
Handstands for intermediates:
- Then next variation is to start facing the wall
- Place your hands on the floor and kick your legs into the air until you’ve gone ‘over’ your centre of gravity
- Plant your feet on the wall and keep your core engaged
- Play around with pushing gently off the wall so you’re in mid-air. Hold it for a second or two before either learning back into the wall or coming down to your feet
This is a great way to learn balance and find that ‘tipping point’ with the support of a wall.
Handstands for experts:
- The final progression is to move away from a wall and go free solo
- In front of a mat practice kicking up straight to a freestanding handstand
- Go too far and tuck into a forward roll onto the mat
- Make sure you keep your hands shoulder-width apart with your fingers splayed and core engaged
Practice, practice, practice – you’ll get there!
Practice handstands for just five minutes each day and you’ll see rapid improvement. Another daily habit to boost your mood, reduce stress and improve health is to consume one spoonful of Ultimate Daily Greens
Benefits of handstands – conclusion
There are very few activities you can practice so easily, with no equipment and with just five minutes. With a range of physical and mental benefits to be had, why not commit to a month of learning handstands and see how far you can get?