Handwalking

After almost every workout I practice some handstands. Over the past year and a half, I’ve gotten slowly better at getting up straight and staying up there for a few seconds, especially since I started intentionally going all the way over into a clumsy backbend. That improved my nerve. I noticed that when I start to tip backwards, I avoid collapse by picking up my right hand, pivoting, and then bringing my feet down. This is a totally reliable safety move. I also used the right hand first in all my futile attempts to take a few steps on my hands. I started to wonder what would happen if I moved the left hand instead. One day a couple of weeks ago when Nancy and I were taking turns practicing our tumbling, I decided my goal was only to take one step with the left hand, or to use the left hand instead of the right in the pivot safety descent.
Taking a step with the left hand was hard at first. It seemed to be glued to the floor. But it turned out to be a major missing ingredient. Many times, taking that first step on the left hand seemed to cause my balance to sort of click into place. The same evening I took five steps on my hands after starting with the left. It was exciting. So now I always start with the left. Two other times, I’ve taken five steps. In turn this seems to help me to hold a handstand more often for three to five seconds.
I need to learn what exactly to do while I’m up there to hold it longer instead of just thinking, Whee, I’m still up, how long can this last? and hoping for a miracle. Meanwhile Nancy is getting good at holding a straight, motionless handstand for a really long time. She is learning to flex her shoulders to adjust the balance, something I haven’t properly attempted yet because it makes me fall. Guess I better work on that.
Megan has some impressive and inspiring handstand-method videos linked off of her March 28 blog post.

1 thought on “Handwalking”

  1. i generally start walking with my right hand. i try to work on handwalking in all directions (front, back, side to side), and i always dread walking sidways to the left because that means i HAVE to start with my left hand :). maybe i should try to vary it when walking in other directions, too. my few attempts to learn to pivot out of a handstand the opposite way from usual were utter failures — can you come down in either direction now?
    i have watched people flex their shoulders to stay up in a handstand, but shoulder use is still an absolute mystery to me. every time i experiment by moving my shoulders it just makes me fall. to hold a handstand still, i make adjustments solely by pressing with my fingertips, which has meant getting strong enough in my forearms to resist falling over backward, and learning not to overcorrect, which is often what sends me back down. occasionally when i’m slightly leaning toward my front i’ve been able to save the handstand by breathing in and pulling in hard with my abs, but for the most part there’s not much i can do about that direction. i think all this stuff just comes from practice — it’s thrilling to be able to learn how to make minor adjustments to stay up. and of course, the tighter and straighter and tenser your body is, the easier to keep it balanced. i’m getting good at staying balanced, but the big challenge for me is kicking up into a balanced handstand. it seems to happen far too rarely for my liking.
    it sounds like you are doing really great with no instruction!!

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