The most asked for skill! Whether it be in split, lunge, or pigeon, I get this skill request all the time! Here are 5 exercises to help you achieve hand to foot!
~What is this "hand to foot" you speak of?~
Hand to foot is the skill of grabbing your leg behind you in one go...but why is this so important? Whether you dance, do aerial, pole, contortion, hand balancing, or anything else, hand to foot is a way to make transitions look seamless. Have you ever watched a performance, and everything about it looked fluid and effortless? You felt so comfortable and at ease watching...those are the best acts ever! A huge part as to how those acts look so effortless is the fluidity of transitions and movements/skills. And that is exactly what hand to foot is...when we can reach back and grab the leg in one movement, we eliminate the clunky/awkwardness that this movement could be, and instead make it look seamless and effortless. Therefore, I find this hand to foot skill super valuable for performers of all kinds!
~"lol Rochelle, I am nowhere near getting this skill"
Chill, super okay! I know this might be a skill that you are not even remotely thinking about trying! And that is totally okay! What I love about this skill, is that it is such a test of your true active flexibility in so many different body parts...shoulders, back, glutes, and hip flexors. I know it is defeating sometimes to practice things we are not good at...I am super guilty of that! I love practicing skills I am great at! And this is a super challenging skill that is sometimes hard to feel "good" at...but, like I said above, it is a super beneficial skill to have for performing and also a great active flexibility skill to practice!
~5 essential exercises for the hand to foot~
Hand to foot requires flexibility and strength in many different parts of the body: shoulders, back, hips, and hamstrings...with that being said, I think there are so many stretches that can benefit the hand to foot skill...however these 5 that I have listed below, are what I have found to be most beneficial to my students. If you need help warming up before you try these five exercises, check out my flexibility videos on my website: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/functionalflexibility
**Side note: I find that this skill is very beneficial to have a coach for...there is so much happening/going on with the body that it can be frustrating and the smallest adjustment can make a big difference. I am always available for privates if you need coaching through this skill!**
Arm circles: using a theraband, keep arms straight and rotate them forward and back. I see this skill used as a warm up for so many disciplines. Make sure you are doing these with correct technique and they can be so beneficial!
Bending of the arms, behind the head: The actual bending of the arm behind the head is where many people run into trouble with hand to foot. Practice doing this with both arms at the same time, that way they can push against each other a bit for support.
Straightening arm with straightening of the leg (band): wrap a theraband around the foot (can be in pigeon, lunge, or split). Holding the band with opposite arm, straighten the leg back and pull the arm with you. So yummy!
Keeping arm straight with bent leg: same exercise as above, but once the leg and arm are straight back, try to keep the arm where it is and only bend the leg. Great glute and lat strength exercise!
Wall split (pigeon/lunge/split), arching back: because the back leg is already bent, this exercise places more emphasis on the back and shoulder. Practice arching back and trying to grab the leg here.
~"But Rochelle, I need to see you do these drills"~
And you can! Head over to my Vimeo page (https://vimeo.com/ondemand/functionalflexibility )
and subscribe! I have a video of me showing and explaining all 5 of these drills!
I hope these 5 drills help you with achieving your hand to foot! Let me know if you have any questions! Remember to check out my subscription page on Vimeo for more flexibility videos!