25 Sep The amazing benefits of calisthenics: Handstands
The rise in the use of and popularity of calisthenics has been huge over the last few years. The mainstream fitness industry has now recognised and picked up the benefits of using calisthenics as a training method, which can produce amazing whole body results and changes.
Some of these changes include: improved mobility around joints, enhancement in deep core strength, improved body proprioception and awareness, balance and increased muscular tonality.
The main focus here is to look at the benefits of adding handstands into your gym and workout routine. Handstands have been used by gymnasts for decades and have been consistently regarding and used as a sign of whole body strength and acrobatic ability.
Handstands work multiple muscle groups, which include; deltoids (shoulders), upper & lower trapezius (upper back), deep rhomboids (mid back), erector spinae muscle (spinal), transverse and rectus abdominals (stomach), Latissimus dorsi (side of back), triceps (arms), forearm muscles and hand muscles respectively.
The handstand is predominately an isometric exercise, which means that the muscles in your body create a static tension throughout your body to allow it to hold a certain position/posture, in this instant the handstand. By creating this static tension within the muscles allows the body to get stronger without the need to shorten and tighten muscles. This results in a unique exercise that helps to improve strength whilst also improving mobility around the joints being used.
Due to its isometric nature, the handstand can also be used as an advanced rehabilitation and pre-habilitation exercise for shoulder, neck, elbow and wrist injuries. Many physiotherapist will not programme this into rehab programmes due to the skill needed to perform a handstand, but this does not mean it doesn’t work – it does!! The amount of chronic (long-term) rotator cuff injuries that we see during our personal training consultations and assessments is huge, yet going through and coaching a few handstand progressions with our clients, can really improve the strength, stability and mobility of the whole shoulder complex i.e. reducing pain and the probability of a future re-occurence of the injury.
Here is a picture of a client performing a wall handstand in our personal training studio in south bristol, which is a great regression from the full handstand and can be performed easily at home or in the gym.
A few coaching points on this wall handstand are to keep your hands under your shoulders, fingers pointing forwards, locking arms out, keeping your core tight and lower back flat. If you feel your lower back arching into the wall, you either need to pull your stomach in more, or come down under control. You do not want to practice bad form as this will train your body to hold bad positions and increase the risk of injury to your lower back.
In summary, we love to coach handstands as a whole body strength and stability exercise to our clients as it brings with it multiple whole body benefits. We feel that the use of calisthenic movements will become even more popular over the next few years as people become more aware of the benefits to their health and training.
Until next time,