Handstand Challenge Week 2: Wrist Health

At the beginning of April, we started a brand new 6-Week Handstand Challenge.

During the next five weeks, we’re going to be working on different exercises you can do to help you build up to doing a freestanding handstand. Don’t be too intimidated—it doesn’t matter if you’ve been practicing handstands for a while now or you’ve never even tried to do one, this handstand challenge is for you.

Last week, we focused on building strength and endurance with wall handstands.

We’re about to start Week 2, but if you’re new to this challenge, no worries, you can still jump right in! To get the most out of this handstand challenge, make sure to join our private Facebook group where you can share your experience and get in touch with fellow members of the 12 Minute Athlete Community.

For Week 2 of the challenge, our focus will be working on our wrist health.

When you start to work on handstands a lot, you may notice your wrists start to hurt or get a bit achy after practicing your handstands.

This is completely normal, and unless you have a previous wrist injury, not something to be overly concerned about.

Any time you start working new muscles consistently, your body is bound to scream at you a bit.

Yet since our wrists are such a relatively fragile part of our body, it’s really important to take good care of them or you’ll risk suffering an injury. And as someone who has gone through the process of having a wrist injury, believe me, it’s not fun. Although icing and massage helps a little bit, ultimately the only way to heal a wrist injury is to rest it. And that means no handstands! So learn from my mistakes and take care of your wrists.

Wrist Warm Ups for Handstands

One of the best ways to keep your wrists feeling happy when you’re practicing handstands a lot is to do some simple warm up exercises before you start your handstands. The following exercises may seem boring, but they can make a huge difference in preventing a wrist injury:

Note: For each exercise, you should aim to stretch to a point where you feel a good stretch but not pain.

Wrist Stretch #1


Kneel on the floor with your palms flat on the floor and your fingers pointing forward facing away from you. Rock your wrists back and forth as you press your palms into the floor.

Wrist Stretch #2


Kneel on the floor with your palms flat on the floor and your fingers facing towards you. Rock back and forth.

Wrist Stretch #3


Kneel on the floor with your palms facing up and your fingers facing towards you. Rock back and forth.

Wrist Stretch #4


Kneel on the floor with your hands turned inward as far as they can go with your palms flat on the floor. Rock back and forth.

Perform 10 reps of each exercise, going through the entire sequence once or twice before starting your handstand practice.

Watch the short video above for a demonstration of each of these warm ups.

What if Your Wrists Still Hurt?

Some of you have fairly strong and flexible wrists to begin with and will most likely never have to deal with any type of wrist injury. Others among you, especially if you’re new to practicing handstands regularly, will start feeling wrist pain pretty early on, and you’ll have to be especially careful to avoid injuring yourself.

So what should you do if your wrists hurt?

Take enough days off. While I recommend working on your handstands as often as possible (3-6 days per week is ideal), especially at the beginning, you might need to rest more often than that. If your wrists are bothering you, take a couple of extra days off.

Use parallettes. Practicing handstands on wood parallettes or metal parallettes instead of on the floor can significantly reduce wrist pain since you’re avoiding the flat position that normally causes wrist pain to begin with. You can try practicing on parallettes some of the time and I the floor the other part of the time to reduce soreness. And if your wrists are really bothering you, you can stick solely to parallettes until they get better.

Massage. One thing that usually happens when you practice handstands a lot is that your forearm muscles get super tight. This is totally normal, but the result is often that your overly tight muscles start to cause wrist pain. This can be prevented by regularly massaging your forearm muscles. There is a really dorky looking tool called Armaid that is specifically designed for wrist and forearm massage, but it’s a little pricey so you can also try with a regular lacrosse ball or just get someone else to massage your forearms for you.

Rest. If you’ve overtaxed your wrist so much that none of the above methods are helping, you have only one option left: rest. Take a week off from handstands, ice your wrist, and wait for it to heal.

Handstand Challenge Week Two Homework

This week we’re building on last week’s wall handstand challenge. If you missed week one, you can check it out here.

3+ days a week:

#1: Perform 1-2 rounds of the above wrist stretches before you practice your handstands.

#2: Hold a wall handstand for as long as you can three times. Make sure to time your holds so you can track your progress throughout the challenge.

Make sure to post your handstand photos and videos in the 12 Minute Athlete Facebook group to get feedback and support from us and your fellow athletes.

And have fun!

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