From Academic Kids

A handstand is the act of standing erect, but upside down, with one's hands on the ground and feet in the air. Hands are shoulder-width apart. The basic handstand has legs extended vertically with no knee bend, but there are numerous variations. Performing a handstand requires good upper body strength.

In gymnastics, it is a fundamental move, and must be mastered in order to learn the multitude of skills based on it, as some variation of the handstand is performed on every gymnastic apparatus, and many tumbling skills pass through a handstand position during their execution.

In yoga, the handstand is known as Adho Mukha Vrksasana (downward-facing tree pose).

The handstand dives are also one of the main categories of competitive platform diving, in which the diver begins from a handstand position on the board.

Additionally, handstands are often performed in breakdancing, fitness competitions, circus acrobatics, cheerleading, and martial arts.


A basic straight-leg static vertical handstand consists of five key points of posture.

1. Locked Arms - Hands placed flat on the ground shoulder-width apart, elbows locked, maintaining straight arms.

2. Tucked Head - The face is not pointed towards the ground, but straight forward, as if one were upright.

3. 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.

4. Locked Legs - Knees locked, legs kept together and straight.

5. Pointed Toes - Feet kept locked together, with toes pointed straight upwards and being maintained as the topmost point of the position.

Handstand variations, or handstands utilizing apparati, will require a break from these standard points of posture in order to maintain balance.


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.

Handstand push-ups, in which one uses upper-body strength to raise and lower the body while holding a handstand, are a good advanced exercise.

While learning the handstand, it is most common to hold the pose against a wall or other surface for support and balance.


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