What Do I Need To Strengthen To Maintain Handstand?

Transcript: What do I need to strengthen to maintain handstand?

Hey everybody! Welcome to this month’s question of the month. Of course, you can go to yoganatomy.com/my question and you can submit your own question and we’ll answer it here on video. This month’s question of the month comes from Kristin and it is about what to strengthen to maintain handstand.

The Question:

“I just stumbled onto your page and you seem very knowledgeable. I’ve been practicing yoga for 3 years and can hold a steady handstand for about 8 seconds. During the hold I notice my shoulders start to give and cause this dipping effect, almost as if they are about to buckle but I’m not splaying my elbows. I look like I’m doing handstand pushups but that is not what I’m trying to do. My core muscles feel like the only body part keeping me in the air before my shoulders completely crap out and I have to cartwheel out of it.

So my question is, what parts of my body need strengthening, aside from my rear deltoids, to keep me in the air longer and what are some exercises that can help strengthen these muscles? I’m trying to figure out what I need to focus more of my attention [on] strengthening.

Thank you kindly, Kristin”

The Answer:

Hey Kristin, great question. I’m not going to follow you down the path of rear deltoids because I’m not really sure how you got to that. Maybe that’s just where you feel tension or soreness or something like that after you’re trying the handstands. And, of course, handstands are lots of fun. They’re good work, obviously a lot of good core work. The upper body is obviously critical because it’s the foundation that you’re doing those handstands on. So, from that point of view, you want to look at what muscles create the most stability around the entire shoulder girdle, because of course, you’re noticing that “the shoulders start to give and cause this dipping effect”. And, my guess is it is probably your torso collapsing through your shoulder blades.

So, if you haven’t been on the website in a while, go back to the website and type in serratus anterior, or, I’ve got an article called, So, You Want To Do A Handstand? In that article, I talk about serratus anterior. Serratus anterior is a very important stabilizing muscle of the shoulder blade and the shoulder girdle in totality. And, that’s where the focus is typically missing. It doesn’t mean that your deltoids aren’t going to work. It doesn’t mean that your trapezius isn’t going to work. And, it doesn’t mean that other muscles don’t help. The triceps are obviously important as well. But, serratus is the primary place that you want to build your handstand from, which is in the armpit.

So, go to the website, and actually, I also wrote a series of articles on sun salutations, and, if you read those articles, that will help you build up that serratus strength in lots of little places over a longer period of time, rather than just going for the handstand and focusing on one spot.

I think that should answer your question. If you have any other questions, anyone out there, go to yoganatomy.com/myquestion and we’ll answer it here on video.

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