Hand balancing is an incredible practice and a huge part of bodyweight training. Not only is the work great for increasing your shoulder girdle stabilization, but it can also be a killer way to challenge your entire body and improve your neuromuscular connectivity. And, way beyond your basic handstands, the opportunities to challenge your strength, balance and coordination while balancing on your hands are endless!
One of my favorite aspects of hand balancing is how it uses and improves your â€œproprioception,â€ which refers to your unconscious perception of how your bodyâ€™s movement and position in space, arising from stimuli within your body itself. Maintaining your balance on your hands while moving other parts of your body through space requires that just about every muscle be on and active. As you move your limbs, your center of gravity is constantly changing , which requires your central nervous system to constantly send and receive messages to your muscles, making minor adjustments which keep you in balance. Now thatâ€™s a great exercise!
Benefits of the Hand Balancing Back Extension:
Unfortunately, many people concentrate on spinal â€œflexionâ€ exercises like crunches, but neglect extension or spinal stabilization exercises. This overemphasis on flexion exercises can further exacerbate the flexed â€œcomputer postureâ€ that so many people are stuck in for the majority of the day. This can lead to imbalances and may eventually result in back dysfunction.
The Reverse Hyperextension, where the upper body is fixed and the lower body is moving the spine from flexion to extension, is a great exercise even in its traditional form (i.e. as frequently done while lying on a bench or stability ball). Performing the hand balancing version of the back extension brings in even more benefits. The Static Frog with Back Extension will improve your shoulder and trunk stabilization at the same time, while dynamically improving the strength of your spinal extensors.
Practicing Your Hand Balancing
The Static Frog with Back Extension demonstrated in this video is an advanced progression from the basic static frog. As you practice, itâ€™s particularly important to lock in the upper body position and practice total body tension. This will help with your other hand balancing exercises. Note how the body is held tight and controlled throughout the entire exercise:
I encourage everyone to practice hand balancing variations, especially those that involve moving the limbs or body while holding the balance. They do require lots of time, dedication and discipline, so try not to get frustrated as youâ€™re learning. You can expect to fall a lot – I still do all the time! So, make sure you know how to fall out if you start to lose your balance. Overcome your fear, but remember that safety is key!
Itâ€™s very important to build a solid foundation and properly progress before attempting the more advanced movements. You can check out our other lead up videos, Jumping and Static Frog Combination and Advanced Frog Stand Variations, at the end of this post.
You can also check out these previous videos on frog stand variations, and a back extension variation: