Fixing Arched Back in Handstand

I wrote this in 2014 to solve a general case situation. Since then my thinking on the subject has evolved to a more precise use of key exercises integrated into handbalance training. These can be found on the Push program I developed with Handstand Factory. I still fully stand by the following as a good guideline, but feel the Push program is a more precise method of developing the straight handstand.

– Emmet, January 2020

Attaining correct line will speed up your progress immensely in handstand and transfer to other skills. Initially when training with me some people will be devoting 80% of their training time in handstands to corrective exercises and only 20% to Handstand specific. I generally expect to have this issue fixed in 3 months with most people and then after that handstand progress is very rapid.

The following collection of exercises is what I’d use as a standard approach to correcting this issue its not a be all and end all but will aid most in correcting this issue.

One of the most common problems in Handstand training is trainees having an arched back and  their ribs flaring. Inexperienced Coaches will automatically use the “ribs down” cue to try fix this, in my experience this is one of the worst cues for the situation as most beginner trainees in the handstand world actually do not have required scapular mobility to achieve the needed degree of shoulder flexion for a Handstand so rely on either arching the lower back or flaring the ribs to achieve it.

To know if this approach is for you I’ve come up with this easy to apply self test if you fail the test then this approach will more than likely help.

First thing we need to do is remove any adhesions and restore tissue quality to the area. I thoroughly recommend everyone attend a qualified NMT or ART practitioner. As an adjunct I recommend using this foam roller technique.

Next we need to introduce a daily mobility sequence. I’m not in the business of reinventing the wheel and recommend you look at this excellent video by Kit Laughlin. Also if you’re serious about fixing this area buy his “Master Shoulder Flexibility”  here:

Next we need to strengthen the surrounding musculature in the scapula. I generally recommend 4 sets of 8 – 15 on these exercises done twice a week. And for some people they do a couple of sets as part of their warm up.

Next the following stretches are done 2 – 3 times weekly on upper body day.

Remember folks knowledge is nice but applying it is better. Please let me know how you get on with this sequence.

– Emmet