Shoulders, kickup, etc...

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Posts: 2
Joined: 31 Oct 2019, 17:58

Hi folks, I'm Jake. I'm 49 years old and I started practicing handstands a little over a year ago.

My biggest obstacle so far has been tight shoulders. I've made some progress in opening them up, especially from isometric shoulder exercises, but, as you'll see from the videos below, I have a lot of work ahead to get them fully open.

I'm far better at kicking up with my right leg. My left hip is less stable than my right (I have a big knot in my right psoas which restricts flexibility but nevertheless helps with stability). When I kickup with my left leg, I have to work hard to keep it from drifting out externally.

Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Here are the videos:

Right leg kickup and hold:
Left leg kickup and hold:

Posts: 2
Joined: 29 Oct 2019, 00:17

Hello- I struggled for a long time with tight shoulders- really had to out a lot of work in to it.

Couple of things you can think about that have helped me just on this point:

I know it sounds a bit vague but try to feel that you have the space to let your shoulders open- I like to think of trying to create a certain looseness- you can kind of use the resistance of your hands against the floor a little bit to pull/drag the shoulder open.

At Natalie's classes Ive been to she really goes in to details about getting the joints and spine moving. You could try doing some flopping around of your limbs

Your breathing is very heavy and looks like you are holding your breath. This is going to restrict mobility and openness not just physically but it's going to make you feel tight mentally as well.

So maybe , in short, try to cultivate a sense of open shoulders and fluidity in your practice.
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Natalie Reckert
Posts: 33
Joined: 17 Sep 2019, 21:14

Hello Jake,

Hi Adrian (wave :)),

Thanks for sharing your handstand practices and challenges with us.

Some videos you may find helpful:

It appears to me that the two things you would benefit from most are active shoulder mobility exercises that help you to move your scapula better (help you to move it down and in towards the spine).
One exercise in particular that maybe good for you is where you stand in a comfortable lunge position one arm above the head with a 1L bottle or 1kg weight in your hand, thumbs pointing backwards and you move the bottle/arm back, for 20 on one and 20 on the other arm. Gently hanging from a bar in that position os also good (with feet still on the floor for support).
This here is a very good video by Tom Merrick about active mobility exercises:

I would also recommend you to invest a bit in thoracic spine mobility as well as thoracic spine release exercises, this video here is super old but in the end there is an example of a thoracic spine release exercise with a peanut or in your case I would start with a rolled up towel, to find more release is the upper body

Shoulder opening is always 1. passive flexibility in the front of your upper body, meaning the muscles need to lengthen 2. The strength (active flexibility) to position your arms and the scapula, allowing you to pull the arms into an open position before you elevate the shoulders in a handstand and 3. finding release in the torso and upper body allowing the body to "relax" into the stetch/opening.

I would also recommend you do handstands against the wall actively pushing the shoulders up/elevating them in order to correct your position.

I wouldn't be too worried about your legs moving ou a bit unless it really bothers you, try engaging your quads and straightening the knee for better control.

Upper body mobility is a tough one, well done for sticking with it!

Posts: 2
Joined: 31 Oct 2019, 17:58

Thanks Natalie.
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