If your underwater handstand looks more like a drowning giraffe, your legs flailing in the air to keep balance and your body swaying in all directions, there's a better way. Master a graceful underwater handstand, so your friends can stop laughing.
Strengthen your abdominals and back muscles. A strong core helps you maintain simultaneous control over your lower and upper halves during a handstand. Arm strength is beneficial: Water's resistance supports most of your body weight during an underwater handstand, so the main focus is your core. Abdominal crunches, side crunches and back extensions are excellent core exercises.
Inhale deeply and hold your breath as you lower your hands to the pool's floor. Keep your fingers spread out slightly and facing forward. Simultaneously kick both feet upward and out of the water while keeping your abdominals tight so your back remains straight. Extend your elbows so your arms are straight. Bring your legs together and improve the appearance of the handstand by pointing your toes toward the sky.
Practice in 4 to 5 feet of water. The deeper the water, the more body support you have during an underwater handstand. Plus, this allows you to keep your feet underwater until you're ready to extend them out of the water. As the water gets shallower, it gets harder to do an underwater handstand. If you progressively practice in shallower water, you'll be able to hold a perfect handstand underwater in 3 feet or less.
- If you feel yourself losing balance, use your fingertips to press against the pool floor and maintain tight abdominals. Do not bend your knees.
- Ask a friend to gently hold your legs straight once they're out of the water. Only ask a friend whom you trust will let go when you come out of the water.
- Keep your arms even with your ears and do not move your head to look at the floor of the pool. Your head and neck must remain even with your spine.
- Wear nose plugs to keep water from getting in your nose.
- Talk to your doctor to learning to do handstands under water, especially if you have a respiratory or cardiac condition, or a history of seizures.
- Only practice with a trusted friend who will not engage in horseplay. Water horseplay can be dangerous or even cause drowning.
- Never attempt handstands under water if you're under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Melissa McNamara is a certified personal trainer who holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and communication studies from the University of Iowa. She writes for various health and fitness publications while working toward a Bachelor of Science in nursing.