Scared-y Cat’s Guide to Inverting on Canes

Waking up to another beautiful morning and you are ready to begin training on your handstand canes, but as you stare at them during your warm up they seem to almost mock you. “Hey, we are these stationary objects you are supposed to levitate off the ground with little to no effort.” I swear if they had a face, their tongue would be permanently sticking out to tease you. However, fear no more! There are ways to move past your fears and become the badass hand balancer you hope to be.

Step 1 - Finding Your Grip:

  • Starting is tough, but the very first step is placing your hands on the very apparatus you’d like to be the master of! When playing with your canes your hand placement is important. Everyone has a different preference of how to hold their hands, but the most common grip has two fingers (pointer and middle) at the top of the block, with the thumb on one side and ring and pinky fingers on the other. This grip is a stepping stone to partner acro holds as well. If this doesn’t feel comfortable for you, one or three fingers can be placed at the top of the block.

Step 2 – Getting Comfortable:

  • Once you know which grip you prefer, it’s time to put it to use! Holding yourself in an L-sit or tuck for a minimum of 30 seconds is a good prerequisite for trying to invert on handstand canes. Rocking your weight back and forth in this will help increase your comfort level with stabilizing your body.
  • “Crow” pose from yoga is a fantastic exercise to get you comfortable with leaning forward over your shoulders. The added height definitely effects your ability to get your butt up to where it’s supposed to be, but using the canes to stabilize (lifting one foot at a time) in the beginning stages is helpful. Remember to look forward to reduce your risk of falling forward!
  • Grab a bench or a stable chair to place behind your handstand canes so you have a elevated surface to start from. Find your preferred grip, press through those shoulders and get comfy with raising one leg in the air at a time. Look slightly above your hands to get used to the position.

Step 3 – Learning to Fall:

  • Don’t doubt yourself – in life and when practicing inversions! Vizualize yourself completing the movement you want with determination and ease. Be secure in your grip, pushing through your shoulders, locking those elbows.
  • Falling is inevitable when working on handstand canes because of gravity. However, we can work on coming down safely! Falling forward is usually a no-no, it’s much harder to control and can be bad for your back, knees, etc. When coming out of a handstand going back to the starting position is an option, but sometimes hard to do, this is when you want to try to cartwheel out.
  • Never done a cartwheel? Start practicing on the floor! Get used to the motion on your legs going overhead, then to your side, one after the other. There are hundreds of videos teaching cartwheels and if it’s “out of your wheelhouse” so to speak I’d recommend looking over a few.

Step 4 – Against the Wall:

  • “To the window, to the wall!” - Lil Jon, but really don’t choose a window, choose the wall. You want to just go upside down already, but still not 100% confident inverting off the ground yet. I like to place my canes about one foot away from the wall, not the edge of the base, but the actual canes themselves. Putting the canes right up against the wall seems like a good idea, but when first starting not having a space for your head is more difficult.
  • Kicking or jump tucking up will be our only options at first, but still are difficult. Having the canes against the wall helps though so we can put all of our effort into getting up, without the fear of going overboard.
  • Once up, now it’s time to hold your handstand! Work on taking your feet off the wall and making a straight line with your body. This means squeezing everything, glutes and toes included! Remember breathing is essential, even upside down!

Step 5 – Free Range Handstands:

  • After your comfort level has grown with handstand canes and inverting you are ready to play in an open space! This allows you to work on a variety of shapes and angles within your handstand training.
Now go play! Just remember to trust your skills and to fall safely!