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So, you walk into a CrossFit gym, maybe you are fairly new, maybe you’re not; however, you see that on the board for today is handstand work. Do you get excited? You should! Some people are elated at this, but they are usually your former gymnasts. For most of us, being upside down seems a little ridiculous, especially as adults. Children spend a lot of their time upside down. They stand on their heads, they do forward rolls, the lay upside down on the couch (or is that just my crazies?). For children, the thought of being inverted is awesome. For adults, not so much. Particularly for the adults who did not spend time in their childhood or teens in the handstand position. Some of us may find it is easier to modify the upside-down movements and go about our day. This is the wrong way of thinking. There are several benefits for adults to being upside down.
First of all, it improves your mood. That’s right, being upside down makes you happy. It may not seem this way, at first, but it is true. It can relieve stress and increase your blood flow creating happiness. Many of us use the gym as a way to alleviate the stresses in our lives, so this seems like a no brainer. Spending just a small amount of time upside down will change your mood. It allows your blood flow to rush to the brain, creating more room in those blood vessels, and in turn elevating your mood. That sounds like a win-win to me. I’m sure we can all use a change in our mood from time to time.
Secondly, it has a lasting improvement to your memory. As we age, this can be a big thing. I’m sure we all have those moments when we walk into a room and have no idea why we came in there. How about lost keys? Forgotten appointments? We can all use a boost to our memory and getting upside down does just that. Again, the blood flow rushes to your brain, which as previously mentioned, not only causes elevated mood, but an increase to your memory power. Finding the time for inversion is important to your future mental health.
Lastly, being upside down improves your flexibility. Inversion stretches out your body, taking pressure off your back (another bonus) and opens all of your joints from your shoulders to your hips. It changes the way gravity usually pulls on you, and allows your body to not only get a small reprieve from pain, but allows it to stretch in a new way. It opens up your joints and allows them to get a break from the normal pattern of movement. All of this aids in your flexibility as you move in other ways around the gym.
Do not be afraid of being upside down! Even if gracefully kicking up into a handstand isn’t your thing, find other ways to invert your body. Use a box, find a GHD machine, or even do some forward rolls with your kids. Inversion is one of the best and most cost-effective ways to improve your mood, memory, and flexibility, all of which we need not only to function as an athlete in the gym, but as an adult in society. So, get upside down, and change your perspective.
By: Amanda Stewart, CFL1, Contributing Writer
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