The Handstand Secrets

You are not going to get a good handstand unless you have the following prerequisites.

This should not come as a surprise to you that. If you don’t have an appropriate range of motion in your wrist you’re going to have a very tough time learning the handstand.

A while back, a yoga teacher that I met on Facebook has invited me to do a handstand workshop at his studio. I also made an announcement to the people in the area that I will be doing a workshop. A lot of people showed up hoping to walk out with a handstand or with a better handstand after taking this workshop.

I asked the attendees who can and cannot do a handstand. By the show of hands, I saw that about a quarter of the people were able to do some form of a handstand.

Most of those who were able to do a handstand, were not able to do a straight handstand. The elbows would bend, the back would bend, the head was in the wrong position, legs were in the wrong position, the elbows were flaring out, but they managed to hold themselves upside down for a few seconds, at least.

I decided to get the disappointment out of the way at the beginning of the workshop, and I informed everyone that unless they have the prerequisites. They should not start on the handstand. And ifthey do, they’re not going to get a proper handstand if the prerequisites are not there.

I then asked everyone to do a little test to see if they had the prerequisites. The test consisted of the following:

Wrist extension flexibility. Wrist extension is moving the back of your hand in the direction of the back of your forearm. In other words, the dorsal side of your wrist in the direction of the dorsal side of your forearm.

I was testing them on passive flexibility. Everyone simply had to get down on the floor, place their palms on the floor, and see how much they could extend their wrist. Ideally with their shoulders being over their fingertips with their elbows locked.

To prove my point. I took two people whose handstands were the best in the group. And I asked them to do the test in front of everybody. There was a correlation. The ones that had closest to the best handstand also had the best wrist extension flexibility. As well as otherprerequisite markers which I will discuss in part two of this article.

Wrists, Fingers & Forearm Strength & Flexibility Training

The Wrist and forearm flexibility program is often forgotten and neglected compared to large muscles such as the hamstrings, adductors and even Lats or hip flexors.

Our program does away with standard relaxed stretches. When working the hand and forearm too often general stretches don’t hit every muscles, often neglecting the deeper ones, if the superficial are too tight. Our techniques focus on each muscle one at a time. Two or more actions of each mover are used against each other to create space and quickly gain length and range of motion. Our system also allows to avoid the pain of the stretch reflex.

“You must have more flexibility, passively, than you’re going to use actively!”

Having shown this to the group I delivered one of my favorite lines, something that EasyFlexibility practioners have heard many times over the years.

“You must have more flexibility, passively, than you’re going to use actively!” It doesn’t matter which muscles are being active, the same ones that are being stretched or the opposite to the ones that are being stretched. You need more passive flexibility than active flexibility. In a handstand, it’s the same muscles that are being active as the ones being stretched, as far as the fingers, wrist and forearm are concerned.

There were several people in the class who have never really practiced a handstand before. This was the first time that they wanted to learn how to do a handstand and they had very flexible wrist extension.

After we did all the tests, and I will mention the other tests in the next article, I have informed most of the people in the group that they should not start working on their handstands. Instead I will show them how to develop their prerequisites. I told him that I’ll do a follow up workshop, and if they have their prerequisites at that point, I will show them how to work in a handstand.

This is not how I work on wrist flexibility, but this is how most people do it.

Flexible wrists seems like an easy no brainer to most people. Most people think that all you have to do is just keep pushing your hand or keep pushing your forearm in a specific direction until you get it. However, that is not the case.

This is not how I work on wrist flexibility, but this is how most people do it. The muscles that flex the wrist and flex the fingers, the ones that prevent the wrist and finger extension, are not uniform. Each one is unique. I will not bore you here with anatomy and kinesiology since this post is not about that. At the same time, supporting exercises must be included. Flexibility is good, but flexibility without strength is not very useful here.

Proprioception and awareness

And when we’re talking about hand balancing, there’s another very important aspect. Proprioception and awareness. It’s not brute strength. It’s also an ability to apply a lot of little contractions at the right time. In a very short period of time to adjust so that the body can stay vertical with hand support.

So if you’re looking to do a handstand, wrist extension is your first prerequisite. Check it. See if you can get your shoulder at least over your fingertips, which means that there’s going to be more than 90 degrees of wrist extension.

We have a Wrist & Finger & Forearm program which actually addresses both the flexion and the extension. So, if you see that you’re not meeting the first prerequisite (flexible wrists) for handstand, this is definitely a place to start in preparation for a perfect handstand. Stay tuned for part two of handstand prerequisites.

Get your Wrists, Fingers & Forearm Program!

Our program does away with standard relaxed stretches. When working the hand and forearm too often general stretches don’t hit every muscles, often neglecting the deeper ones, if the superficial are too tight.

What is the best one hamstrings stretch?

Paul, just give me one good stretch for the hamstrings! That I can use with my students.

This is a question that I got from a martial arts instructor who has purchased multiple programs and has seen success with them for his own training. He also took the EasyFlexibility Online Training Certification Course (EFTC).

And it’s a good question. Because over the years I realized that a lot of people practice different sports, Martial Arts, Dance, Gymnastics, and so on. People who would prefer to add just one stretching technique and not have to do the whole program. This is also true for the instructors who do 45 minutes to an hour, an hour and a half of sports specific activity, and don’t want to spend that much time on specific goals such as hamstrings flexibility, adductors flexibility, back bending, etc.

I realized that it’s my job to repeat this information and repeat these answers to people over and over again. Simply because EasyFlexibility method is different than other methods. When people are used to other methods of stretching, it might take a while to understand why EasyFlexibility is different.

Some people find it difficult to understand why they cannot do the same thing they usually do while stretching when using the EasyFlexibility programs.

Some people find it difficult to understand why they cannot do the same thing they usually do while stretching when using the EasyFlexibility programs. Why is it that in other methods all they have to do is one exercise to stretch their hamstrings, such as just sit down on the floor, extend both legs in front of them and just try to reach for the toes as much as possible.

The confusion to many is why there are many different stretching exercises in the EasyFlexibility system that focus on the hamstrings, and not just the stretching exercises but also the supporting exercises. And so, I need to explain this concept over and over again.

Hamstrings Intermediate

Enjoy a complete follow-along workout for fast hamstrings flexibility tailored for intermediate students. A lot of people hold back because of a purely psychological barrier or as runners like to call it – ‘when they hit the wall’. But we’ll help you push through this and overcome every obstacle along the way! 

You can count on Zaichik Stretching to connect you to your own body and mind. You’ll start to understand your body language and correctly assess your capabilities to know just how far you can go.

Stretching multiple muscles at the same time is triggering the stretch reflex

To do one stretching technique, which is a general direction stretch, such sitting and trying to reach the toes, which is what a lot of people used to, is stretching multiple muscles at the same time, triggering the stretch reflex, trying to fight the stretcher flex, which is fighting you back and at the same time not backing up or retaining the flexibility in any way. And that is the big reason why so many people are doing the same stretch for the hamstrings, losing that progress, regaining it again the next session and so on, which results in very little progress and no long term improvement. If that one stretch would’ve worked for everybody there would be no EasyFlexibility, it would not be needed, and nobody would be using it.

Why spend half an hour to 45 minutes sometimes more to develop flexibility in the hamstrings, or in hip flexors, or in the shoulders, or to develop a split if one can just do 30 seconds stretch and that’s it.

So in terms of picking one technique. One good technique from EasyFlexibility. Which one do we pick? For example in forward bend do we pick the one that targets Medial Hamstrings, or Lateral Hamstrings? Do we pick the one that targets the sciatic nerve? Do we pick the one that targets the extensors of the hip on the inside or outside? Glutes, adductors? Which one do we pick?

If one muscle is stretched but other ones are not you’re not going to get a complete forward bend.

If one muscle is stretched but other ones are not you’re not going to get a complete forward bend, and in a virtual scenario where someone may just need flexibility of one muscle and all the other muscles are stretched if it’s not backed up by supporting exercises to retain that flexibility, that flexibility is close to useless because it will be lost and the next session will start at square one again.

So this is something that I have tried over the years, for example lateral hamstring is usually tighter most people so I wanted to see if just stretching the lateral hamstring would solve an issue without doing anything else. It worked for very few people, it didn’t work for most and even those whom it worked for when we added other techniques on the top of the lateral hamstrings the progress that they were getting had speed up.

The same applies to the supporting exercises. Some supporting exercises will be very difficult for a beginner and most likely will be done wrong. While a student with more flexibility will be able to do them. And get the most benefit out of them that are beginner will not get.

Why do different people need different techniques if they need flexibility in exactly the same muscle group?

I have demonstrated this, for example, when I was asked by trainers and coaches that I know to visit their location and help out their students with flexibility.

If one student or more, were out of range with everyone else, that is less flexible than everyone else or more flexible than everyone else I would give them different techniques, even if they needed flexibility in exactly the same muscle group.

And one of the instructors, I remember, asked, he said: “You’re giving different techniques but everyone has the same muscles, so why different techniques?”

The witch I said well look and I called the beginning student and I said try this technique and a beginner student or perhaps it wasn’t a beginning student, I’m not sure but it was definitely a less flexible student, struggled with it but flexible student was able to do it and gain the benefits of the technique that a tighter student was not.

So you can see that the request to only give one stretching technique for the hamstrings makes sense from the older point of view of how people used to stretch, but perhaps after reading this article you will understand that the EasyFlexibility is a different system, it’s a much deeper system and the depths of the system is what gives it its ability to improve flexibility faster and with more consistent results.

If you’re interested in forward bending certification for you or your students take a look below.

The purpose of this certification is to learn how to master and teach a PROPER COMPLETE forward bend or forward fold.

What is a proper and complete forward bend or forward fold?
 This is when your spine is absolutely straight and the whole flexibility of the forward bend comes from your hips. This is learning how to not simply touch your fingers to your toes not touch your head to your knees but your whole straight torso from your stomach to your chest is making full contact with your straight legs without any gap.

In this course you will learn Zaichik Stretching Techniques for each muscle group, level by level. Zaichik Stretching Techniques allow you to see the progress with every training session. You will also learn a variety of specialty proprietary supporting exercises, that develop the strength, and help the body to adapt to newly and newly founded freedom in your hamstrings.

The EASY Forward Bending Certification Course is unique in that its the first certification that comes with animated as well as human demonstrations of Zaichik Stretching Techniques to make sure that you do them optimally and get the most benefits.

This certification course will help you to lengthen your muscles one by one to quickly develop and support flexibility necessary to do a perfect, beautiful, straight back, head to feet, forward bends.

Hamstring Stretch Goals – HOW FAR SHOULD YOU GO?

For the splits the goal is easy to understand: 180 degree split, with one leg is in straight line with the other.

But what is the optimal or maximum goal for the hamstrings or the hamstring?

It is known that there are variations in ratio between the torso and the legs.

Just because one person can do something as far as hamstring stretch is concerned, does that mean that another person can achieve the same thing? And what is that optimal achievement there?

The short answer is: When you are working on your hamstring flexibility, to bend forward in half with straight body.

In other words, bending at your back and touching your head to your knees with straight legs it’s not the same as touching your whole leg with your whole front of the torso.

In the second example where the body is straight there is a greater demonstration of hamstring stretching results as opposed to when the spine is severely flexed or curved forward.

Hamstrings Intermediate

Enjoy a complete follow-along workout for fast hamstrings flexibility tailored for intermediate students. A lot of people hold back because of a purely psychological barrier or as runners like to call it – ‘when they hit the wall’. But we’ll help you push through this and overcome every obstacle along the way! 

You can count on Zaichik Stretching to connect you to your own body and mind. You’ll start to understand your body language and correctly assess your capabilities to know just how far you can go.

How far can I get my head to my feet?

Another common question that comes up is: “How far can I get my head to my feet? Can everyone do that? I’ve seen people do that, but maybe I just have long legs and short torso. I can get flexible. But, no matter what I do, I will not get my head to my toes?”

I recall during one of my seminars, a student was sitting on the floor with her legs straight. She bent forward and touched her head to her toes. Another student looking at her, said “I could never do that, I have long legs”.

However, during one of the shoots, several years later, one of the models who was very flexible and had long legs, was able to place her body completely flat on her legs. She was not able to touch the top of her head to her toes. And she assured me that she will never be able to do that. But the distance between her head and her toes was minimal. I told her that if she were to improve her ankle flexibility she would then be able to place her head on her toes.

Zaichik Stretching Techniques

In the EasyFlexibility system we have special stretching techniques known as ZST’s (Zaichik Stretching Techniques). One of these techniques called ~Harmony~ ZST was a perfect fit for this person’s issues. I had her do 5 rounds of ~Harmony~ ZST followed by supporting exercises. Lo and behold, as I have explained to her earlier, she was able to touch her toes with the top of her head.

So, for example in standing position which we did not test with her only sitting, any person with very flexible hamstrings should be able to place their head very close to the floor.

If you want to take your flexibility to the maximum level, going beyond touching your knees to your head, or touching your head to your shin just below the knees, touching your toes with the top of your head would be your next goal.

To learn more about forward bends and how to perfect your hamstrings flexibility, we invite you to register for our EasyForward Bend Online Training Certification Course. This course goes in depths into everything you need to do to be able to do, and teach others to do perfect forward bends.

The purpose of this certification is to learn how to master and teach a PROPER COMPLETE forward bend or forward fold.

What is a proper and complete forward bend or forward fold?
 This is when your spine is absolutely straight and the whole flexibility of the forward bend comes from your hips. This is learning how to not simply touch your fingers to your toes not touch your head to your knees but your whole straight torso from your stomach to your chest is making full contact with your straight legs without any gap.

In this course you will learn Zaichik Stretching Techniques for each muscle group, level by level. Zaichik Stretching Techniques allow you to see the progress with every training session. You will also learn a variety of specialty proprietary supporting exercises, that develop the strength, and help the body to adapt to newly and newly founded freedom in your hamstrings.

The EASY Forward Bending Certification Course is unique in that its the first certification that comes with animated as well as human demonstrations of Zaichik Stretching Techniques to make sure that you do them optimally and get the most benefits.

This certification course will help you to lengthen your muscles one by one to quickly develop and support flexibility necessary to do a perfect, beautiful, straight back, head to feet, forward bends.