A handstand is the act of supporting the body in a stable, inverted vertical position by balancing on the hands. In a basic handstand the body is held straight with arms and legs fully extended, with hands placed approximately shoulder-width apart. There are many variations of the basic handstand, but in all cases a handstand performer must have good upper body strength and balance.

Handstands are performed in many athletic activities, including [freerunning] , breakdance, acro dance, fitness competitions, circus acrobatics, cheerleading and Capoeira. In yoga, the handstand is known as "Adho Mukha Vrksasana" (downward-facing tree pose). Handstand dives are one of the main categories found in competitive platform diving. Some variation of the handstand is performed on every gymnastic apparatus, and many tumbling skills pass through a handstand position during their execution.


The two basic handstand styles are the curved-back style popular in early 20th century gymnastics and the straight-back style popular in modern gymnastics [http://www.lostartofhandbalancing.com/articles/styles.html] . A standard straight-back style handstand consists of five key points of posture.

#Locked Arms — Hands placed flat on the ground shoulder-width apart, elbows locked, maintaining straight arms.
#Tucked Head — The face is not pointed towards the ground as in a curved-back handstand, but straight forward, as if one were upright. The performer should nonetheless be looking at his hands while in this position to help balance.
#Hollowed Hips — Prevents the spine from curving by thrusting the hips over one's center of gravity. If performed lying flat on the ground, this posture would maintain contact between the small of the back and the ground.
#Locked Legs — Knees locked. Legs can be kept together or in a "V" and straight.
#Pointed Toes — Feet pointed straight, continuing the line the legs.

Some handstand variations, or handstands utilizing apparatus, will require a break from these standard points of posture in order to maintain balance. The handstand is maintained by subtly shifting the body's weight towards the fingers or the heel of the hand.


Popular variations of the handstand include positions with the legs extended in a side or front split, legs in a front split with knees bent ("stag split"), with back extremely arched, legs slightly bent and toes touching back of head, and one-handed. Dancers in the breakdance community employ many handstand variations as freezes or one-handed kicks.

Handstand pushups, in which one raises and lowers the body while holding a handstand, are a test of both balance and upper-body strength.

Swimmers sometimes do handstands underwater, by rolling forward, placing the hands on the bottom of the pool, and raising the legs and feet out of the water. Underwater handstands may be a game or contest between swimmers to see who can maintain the handstand the longest.

While learning the handstand, it is most common to hold the pose against a wall or other surface for support and balance. While doing a handstand, the performer always uses the base of the fingers for support, because shifting his weight back and forth across the hand is the only way to maintain balance.


The handstand is a fairly safe pose when performed correctly and is comparable to a headstand. Either can produce momentary dizziness or vision changes, especially for those with conditions such as high blood pressure. Such individuals sometimes choose a smaller inversion like the "legs up the wall" pose as a substitute.

When falling backwards, the performer tucks his chin to the chest and smoothly rolls down. Once this is mastered, there is very little risk involved.

The most common side effect when doing the headstand or the handstand is getting temporary bloodshot eyes.

Transitioning from a headstand to a handstand can be dangerous.

ee also

*List of hatha yoga postures
*Hand walking
*Head stand

External links

* [http://aescougarcheer.com/Cheer101/tumbling.htm More tips for doing handstands, with links to pictures and videos.]
* [http://gymnastics.about.com/od/skillhowtos/ss/handstand.htm Learn a Handstand]
* [http://www.usa-gymnastics.org/publications/technique/1997/1/handstand.html Working up the strength for a handstand]
* [http://www.sandowplus.co.uk/Competition/Hoffman/YorkHandBalance/yorkhb.htm York Handbalancing Books]
* [http://www.beastskills.com/Handstand.htm Beastskills: Handstand]
* [http://www.lostartofhandbalancing.com/articles.html Lost Art of Hand Balancing - Handstand and Acrobatic Articles]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Handstand — in Capoeira Der Handstand ist eine Grundposition in verschiedenen Sportarten. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Bewegungsbeschreibung …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • handstand — n. The gymnastic act of supporting oneself by one s hands alone in an upside down position; as, to do handstands for exercise. [WordNet 1.5 +PJC] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • handstand — ► NOUN ▪ an act of balancing upside down on one s hands …   English terms dictionary

  • handstand — [hand′stand΄] n. a gymnastic feat of supporting oneself upside down on the hands with the body held vertically …   English World dictionary

  • Handstand — Hạnd|stand 〈m. 1u; Sp.〉 das Stehen auf den Händen, auf dem Boden od. auf Turngeräten ● den Handstand machen; im Handstand * * * Hạnd|stand, der (Turnen): Übung, bei der der Körper mit dem Kopf nach unten, bei ausgestreckten Armen auf die Hände… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • handstand — UK [ˈhændˌstænd] / US noun [countable] Word forms handstand : singular handstand plural handstands a movement in which you put your hands on the ground and balance your body and legs in the air …   English dictionary

  • Handstand — der Handstand, ä e (Oberstufe) Übung, bei der man bei vollkommen gestrecktem Körper auf den Händen steht Beispiel: Der Artist machte einen Handstand und begann auf den Händen durch die Mange zu laufen …   Extremes Deutsch

  • handstand — /hand stand /, n., v., handstood, handstanding. n. 1. an act or instance of supporting the body in a vertical position by balancing on the palms of the hands. v.i. 2. to perform a handstand. Cf. headstand. [1895 1900; HAND + STAND] * * * …   Universalium

  • Handstand — Hạnd·stand der; (e)s; nur Sg; eine sportliche Übung, bei der man mit den Händen am Boden und dem Kopf nach unten die Arme und die Beine senkrecht in die Höhe streckt <einen Handstand machen> …   Langenscheidt Großwörterbuch Deutsch als Fremdsprache

  • handstand — [[t]hæ̱ndstænd[/t]] handstands N COUNT If you do a handstand, you balance yourself upside down on your hands with your body and legs straight up in the air …   English dictionary