The Many Benefits of Handstands for Health

by Joe Miller, Demand Media Google
    Handstands strengthen the bones of your upper body.

    Handstands strengthen the bones of your upper body.

    Handstands turn your normal relationship with gravity upside-down, which can benefit your health in many ways. Supporting your weight on your arms strengthens your upper body and core. Handstands stimulate the bones of your wrists, arms and shoulders. They can help breathing and circulation, improve your mental outlook and calm your mind.

    Upper-Body Strength

    Bearing your full weight on your hands strengthens your arms, shoulders and upper body. The trapezius muscles on your upper back and the serratus anterior muscles on the sides of your ribcage stabilize your shoulder blades during a handstand. The deltoid muscles of your shoulders engage to press your arms overhead. The triceps muscles on the backs of your arms work to keep your elbows straight. Many of the muscles of your forearms and hands engage to protect your wrists.

    Core Strength

    By engaging the muscles that stabilize your hips and lower back, handstands strengthen your core. The hip flexor muscles, including the iliacus and psoas major, work to keep your legs from falling back. The hamstrings and inner thigh muscles activate to keep your thighs extending upward and drawing together. The abdominal muscles work to stabilize your lower back, while your spinal muscles, including the erector spinae, contract to keep your spine extended.

    Bone Health and Breathing

    Handstands can improve your balance. Bearing weight on your arms strengthens the bones of your wrists, arms and shoulders, which may reduce your risk of osteoporosis. Handstands affect your respiration as well. The diaphragm, your main breathing muscle, is stretched when you turn upside down. Inversions bring increased blood flow to the upper lobes of the lungs, which typically get less blood than the lower lungs when you're upright.

    Other Health Benefits

    Yogis believe that reversing the pull of gravity on your body can benefit your internal organs as well, improving circulation and elimination. Inverted postures assist the drainage of blood and lymph from the legs and pelvic organs. Handstands offer psychological benefits, too. They foster self-confidence and may help to reduce mild depression. Because they quiet the part of the nervous system that responds to stress, inverted postures such as handstands can help you become calmer.

    About the Author

    Joe Miller started writing professionally in 1991. He specializes in writing about health and fitness and has written for "Fit Yoga" magazine and the New York Times City Room blog. He holds a master's degree in applied physiology from Columbia University, Teacher's College.

    Photo Credits

    • BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images