One of the primary attributes of a good handstand is the ability to completely extend the shoulders while inverted. Often times, an athlete will begin a turn of handstand work with the best of intentions, but within only a few moments their shoulder girdle will begin to weaken and sag. Enter Handstand (HS) Wall Runs.
HS Wall Runs were originally created quite by accident. One of my athletes for some reason was unable to join in with the rest of the team for the warm-up running drills prior to our joint preparation work. Rather than have him simply set on the side resting while his teammates worked, I arbitrarily assigned him to run on his hands while in a wall handstand for the duration of their run. Little did I know what an auspicious accident this would turn out to be.
The athlete in question was smart, hardworking and quite disciplined. I had however gotten him rather late (14 yrs old) and his shoulder girdle development was lagging behind the other competitive boys of his age. Press handstands were especially difficult for him. When I have jokingly told him not to come down for the duration of their approximately 10 minute running drills, he in fact took me very seriously. He stayed in that handstand, running in place, for the entire 10 minutes.
This became a habit; for two to three times a week when the other athletes performed their pre-warmup running drills, he performed 10 minutes of HS Wall Runs. This went on for several weeks. Sometime thereafter, during conditioning one night, he called me over to check something out. And there in front of me, this athlete who formerly could not correctly execute a single press to handstand, showed me several very nice repetitions in a row. What is especially interesting about this, is that the only adjustment to his training had been the addition of the HS Wall Runs.
We then experimented with using the HS Wall Runs with the rest of the team as well in place of their former running drills. Interestingly enough, it was the weaker athletes who showed the most improvement from the inclusion of this element in their training. Perhaps it was simply that the former weakness of their shoulder girdles precluded them from spending enough time in the support positions of regular press handstand variations to gain strength at the same rate as their stronger teammates. Regardless the benefits of including this element were outstanding and relatively quick.
We experimented with a range of methods for implementing HS Wall Runs. Times for the runs ranged from 10-20 minutes; with a fairly regular emphasis on 15 minutes for several weeks, before it became clear that 10 minutes gave the most benefits with the least risk of overtraining. Individual times actually in a HS Wall Run during the 10 minute block varied from individual to individual. They were strongly encouraged to put forth their best effort and stay in the HS Wall Run as long as possible, but were allowed to drop and recover for a few moments when necessary.
We tried 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 5 days of week training this element. Four and five days a week quickly became too much. Three was ok occasionally. One to two days a week was excellent; providing good results in strength gains with no symptoms of overtraining.
Now before we begin the technical exploration of the HS Wall Runs, there are several important points to review:
1) Warm the wrists and elbows up thoroughly prior to beginning the dayâ€™s training.
2) Rest as needed during your dayâ€™s HS Wall Run training. Give your body a change to adapt to the demands of this excellent element. HS Wall Runs are significantly more difficult than a regular wall HS held for the same period of time. This is due to the constant extensions of the shoulder girdle and the one arm supports.
3) It is better to lower down, rather than wait too long and crash down.
4) Do NOT over indulge on this element. Once per week, or less, is an excellent place to start.
1) Be sure to perform HS Wall Runs in a comfortable location with enough room to roll out forward if necessary.
2) Begin by walking your feet up the wall and your hands into the wall.
3) It is not necessary to have the wrists go completely to the wall. Go as close as you can go, while remaining relatively stable.
4) Do not allow your back to arch while in the HS; keep flat and tight. This will prevent an excessive arch from straining your lower back.
5) From the regular HS position, shift to one side while lifting the other hand to the shoulder. The shoulder of the supporting arm will automatically extend strongly in order to keep you in the HS.
6) On each and every step the hand must touch the shoulder. If you are too fatigued to touch the shoulder, you are too fatigued to be in a one arm HS. Come down and rest until you are sufficiently recovered to begin once again.
7) If you are unfamiliar with the demands of HS training, I recommend that you begin with short bursts of effort in the 10-30 second range.
HS Wall Runs are an excellent movement, which provides great improvements in shoulder girdle strength as well as being a stepping stone toward greater HS proficiency.
Yours in Fitness,