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Gymnasts – Let’s Get Ready for Handstands (Part 1)

By Jen Bazan, PT, DPT

Now that you have some basic mobility and stability exercises for the lower body to help with your return to jumping and landing, let’s talk about the importance of loading the shoulder, elbow and wrist when it comes to handstands, tumbling, vaulting, etc.

Start simple: These first two exercises focus on isometrically (contracting the muscle without changing its length) loading the bicep and the triceps. By slowly loading and progressing these exercises you are improving the wrist and elbow joints capacity to handle weight bearing forces. Focus on generating significant tension throughout the muscle with these isometric contractions and don’t forget to breathe!

The biceps help control the motion of the shoulder and the elbow and is critical in function when raising the arm overhead. Strong triceps will help with shoulder stability and improve your range of motion. Your triceps help any pushing movement (think “blocking”). Strong biceps and triceps help keep your wrist, elbow, and shoulder joints healthy.

The third exercise begins to put you in a loaded position. The challenge here is to not lock out the elbows. This will lead to greater stability demands in the shoulder and core as well as challenge the stability of the elbow joint.

As you may have experienced with my earlier posts, the exercises may seem “easy” at first, but when you finish with the repetitions, you should be able to feel the muscles that you have worked. Slow, controlled movements. Focus on your posture and breathe.