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Laine Rinehart

Contortion handstands

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Laine Rinehart

Does anyone work on them here? I know this forum seems to be mostly devoted to developing the straight line which I am also working on but I am also interested in the variety of backbend handstands out there. I have fairly deep back flexibility I can catch my ankles and work them up my calves and straighten my legs in backbends and can do several chest stand variations but I need help when it comes to applying this flexibility while on my hands. I can comfortably rest my feet on top of my head and get them past my nose but at that point I tip over into a backbend. I'd really like to work on bringing the feet to the sides of my face and eventually into my arm pits but I simply don't feel the depth of my back flexibility while on my hands. While traveling several non traditional ashtanga teachers have adjusted me in handstand to do this but my teachers at home are more on the traditional side and won't work on this with me. I need to find someway of working on this on my own and any feed back would be appreciated.

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Laine Rinehart

Also, will a focus on this disrupt my ability to achieve a straighter line my regular handstands and should I focus on that before working on contortion handstands? Is there much carry over between the two?

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Julian Aldag

If you want to focus on contortion, then you need hands-on coaching from a professional.  If you do not, you have a high risk of developing stress fractures in the vertebra - particularly in the lumbar region where people tend to 'hinge' on a few specific spots.

 

In the mean time, focus on building a solid bridge focusing on thoracic and shoulder mobility and not lumbar flexibility. This will give you a better chance down the line to bend 'globally' and not rely on more flexible area picking up the slack from more stiff ones. 

 

A good place to start would to find some rhythmic gymnastics clubs. They are far more likely to provide safer progressions etc than from people with circus backgrounds ( That has been my observation training both at a circus school, and being next door to the Rhythmic state team).

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Laine Rinehart

Unfortunately I don't live next door to rhythmic team

Edited by LaineRL

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Laine Rinehart

My post got cut off for some reason.

But yeah unfortunately where I currently live there are not many options available although I emailed the local gymnastics studio to see if there is anyone available who will work with adults.

I have a good level of thoracic and shoulder flexibility but I strive to work on this more and more. I've made good progress over the last couple of years of practice and am about 3 inches from sitting on my head but feel like I do need one on one to get there.

The bridge below is more or less where my basic backbend is after some lunges and passive warm us.

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Edited by LaineRL
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Matthew Jefferys

That bend seems to be all in the spine, and very little in the shoulders... Doesn't look too safe to me.

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Alessandro Mainente

That bend seems to be all in the spine, and very little in the shoulders... Doesn't look too safe to me.

Yu're completely wrong, if you look closer spine is bend over thoracic spine, in fact the abs region is completely flat that is a typical sign that lower back is not over extended.

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Matthew Jefferys

Yu're completely wrong, if you look closer spine is bend over thoracic spine, in fact the abs region is completely flat that is a typical sign that lower back is not over extended.

It just seems to me like the extension is occurring only at one or two joints in the vertebrae, and the shoulder extension is minimal as well. I could be wrong; I'm not an expert. It just doesn't look very good compared to most of the proper thoracic bridges I've seen.

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Alessandro Mainente

Because the other bridges you seen were not good as this one.

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Matthew Jefferys

I stand corrected then  :)

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Laine Rinehart

Thanks for the feed back you guys. Yea improving thoracic extension and shoulder flexibility is an ongoing process that may never end. It's good to hear some constructive feed back for sure!

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Laine Rinehart

Update:

Had the chance to meet up with my main trainer while I flew through Seattle and got to work towards some of my goals. This was the first time I've done a contortion push up and even with the spot it was extremely challenging. Got to work on my pressing power somehow.

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Matthew Jefferys

Working bench press up to your body weight, or working towards the one arm push-up will certainly help. Note: The OAPU will be more difficult than a contortion push-up as far as the upper body is concerned.

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Laine Rinehart

I guess it's time to start hitting the bench again. Not really my thing but it could pay off if it carries over.

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Matthew Jefferys

It'll definitely carry-over, but for those who don't like, or don't have access to, weights; you can use wide, pseudo, typewriter and archer push-ups to build that strength  :)

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Laine Rinehart

Thanks for that input man. Just tried those variations and it was a killer on me. Clearly a lot of work to do in order to progress. I felt like those emulated the feeling of chspu more than the bench press.

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Matthew Jefferys

The different torso position will make it feel different, but it's still activating the muscles in a very similar way. I just did archer push-ups on a scale; it's more than 60% of my body weight on my pushing arm at the bottom of each rep. Hence, archer push-ups will be more than enough  :D A few reps of archer push-ups should translate to multiple sets of low rep contortion push-ups. Happy training!

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Zachary Farber

I dunno if bench press is a good idea if contortion is the goal. Why not just the hbp progression?

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Laine Rinehart

Yea I figured bench press could be limiting I looked up the progression for HBp and it could be useful indeed. I would say however that perhaps there is a difference in strength needed because a contortion push up is going to have an emphasis on the spinal extension where as the HBp profession seems to hope to eliminate the arch eventually. I've played with cheststand roll into scorpion handstand with limited success as i tend to limber out of it rather than holding it.

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Matthew Jefferys

I dunno if bench press is a good idea if contortion is the goal. Why not just the hbp progression?

The upper body is still at the same angle as a push-up or bench press. The spine is curved, so it contributes very little to shifting the centre of mass away from the hands. HBP progressions are either focused on downwards pushing (dips) or upwards pushing (handstand push-up). The Chest Roll variations do feature a forwards pressing motion, but it is greatly assisted by momentum, which diminishes as it evolves into a partial handstand push-up.

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Zachary Farber

The upper body is still at the same angle as a push-up or bench press. HBP progressions are either focused on downwards pushing (dips) or upwards pushing (handstand push-up).

Not sure what you mean by upward/downward pressing. Seems to me its all pressing downward, just different things happening in the torso/hips and various degrees of lean.

I would say however that perhaps there is a difference in strength needed because a contortion push up is going to have an emphasis on the spinal extension where as the HBp profession seems to hope to eliminate the arch eventually.

I think actually a lot of the exercises in hbp are geared toward pressing in a tight arch... I do believe the end goal (hollow back press) has some spinal extention in it as the name suggests. (side question: what exactly is the difference between hollow back and arch?)

Its of course not specifically geared toward a contortion press, but if it's just the pressing strength youre lacking hbp is probably your best bet.

Ps is that troy? I should check him out again. If he could help me get my bridge as good as yours that would be loverly.

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Laine Rinehart

Haha yes it's totally Troy he is the man. Granted I developed most of my back flexibility before going to him and I only practice with him when I pass through Seattle but he has helped fine tune and refine my back flexibility and has assisted with some very deep adjustments. I feel totally at ease with him and his students come from a variety of backgrounds and it's an inspiring place to practice.Go to him for sure.

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Matthew Jefferys

Not sure what you mean by upward/downward pressing. Seems to me its all pressing downward, just different things happening in the torso/hips and various degrees of lean.

I think actually a lot of the exercises in hbp are geared toward pressing in a tight arch... I do believe the end goal (hollow back press) has some spinal extention in it as the name suggests. (side question: what exactly is the difference between hollow back and arch?)

 

Downwards relative to the anatomical position of the body. Dips are downwards pressing (or inferior pressing), handstand push-ups are upwards pressing (superior pressing) and push-ups are forwards pressing (anterior pressing). Bench press, push-ups and contortion push-ups all count as anterior pressing, as the elbows reach full extension when the arms are in front of the body.

 

Hollow body is PPT (posterior pelvic tilt) while an arch is significant APT (anterior pelvic tilt) with spinal extension. The straight-body progressions for HBP are really only the last two or three progressions. The rest is all arm work, then arched body work, eventually getting into straight-body.

Edited by Mercurial Flow

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Zachary Farber

 

Hollow back is PPT (posterior pelvic tilt) while an arch is significant APT (anterior pelvic tilt) with spinal extension.

Are you sure youre not mixing up hollow back and hollow body

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Matthew Jefferys

Yes, I was! Thank you for the correction :) I have fixed it. I could've sworn I typed "hollow body"  :wacko:

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