Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

How to improve balance during a handstand

October 4, 2023

Wrist strategy for maintaining balance in a handstand

The handstand is a unique position that requires placing one’s entire weight through the hands. Different strategies can be adopted to maintain balance in the handstand on the floor. Studies looking at successful strategies for maintaining balance in high-level handbalancers concluded that more experienced handbalancers relied on wrist strategies to maintain balance, while less experienced handbalancers relied more on hip and shoulder strategies (Kerwin and Trewartha 2001; Yeadon and Trewartha 2003; Kochanowicz et al. 2019).

A wrist strategy involves use of the wrist and forearm to maintain balance while a shoulder or hip strategy would involve use of the shoulder and hip. In the handstand position a wrist strategy can help keep the motion closer to the ground/base of support whereas a shoulder or hip strategy is farther from the ground/base of support.

Two drills to work on wrist strategy are the heel and toe pull:

Heel Pull Video

Kick into a handstand position with your heels on the wall. From the wrist, start to shift your weight away from the wall until your feet float off of the wall. Maintain for 1-5 seconds and then move your weight back onto the wall. Perform for 3-5 repetitions.

Toe Pull Video

Walk yourself into a handstand position with the tops of your feet on the wall. Initiating from the wrist, shift your weight forward until your feet have minimal weight in them. Float your feet off the wall into a handstand position. Maintain for 1-5 seconds and then move your weight back onto the wall. Perform for 3-5 repetitions.

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Kerwin DG, Trewartha G. Strategies for maintaining a handstand in the anterior-posterior direction. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2001;33(7): 1182-1188.

Yeadon MR, Trewartha G. Control strategy for a hand balance. Motor Control. 2003;7: 411-430.

Kochanowicz A, Niespodzinski B, Mieszkowski J, Marina M, Kochanowicz K, Zasada M. Changes in the muscle activity of gymnasts during a handstand on various apparatus. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2019; 33(6): 1609-1618.