What's your biggest struggle in a waterfall backbend?
It's a basic skill for gymnasts - nevertheless I was really proud when I got it as an adult without a background in gymnastics!
While you need some flexibility and strength to do it safely, the main challenge (and game changer) is the right technique and overcoming the fear of dropping back. Here are some hints which might help you:
🤸 Start with the feet really wide apart. You think it's wide enough? No! But it doesn't look pretty that way? Who cares! At first it's about gaining confidence and control - you can focus on aesthetics later.
A turnout of the legs is ok too. The common practise in yoga classes to keep the feet narrow and parallel goes against most people's anatomy: That way a psoas stretch is unlikely because the
ligaments will block any further extension -> hello low back pain!
This doesn't mean that position x is correct and position y isn't, y is just more accessible to most folks.
🤸 Your hands are supposed to stay next to your hips as long as possible. As soon as you see the floor, you can put the arms to the sides and then close to your ears. Straighten them and keep them strong and engaged, so you don't fall on your head!
Gymnasts bring them up from the beginning? Yeah, because they do more momentum based movements such as walkovers. It makes perfectly sense for them, but is harder because the arms' weight will shift your leverage all of a sudden and this makes it harder to balance. You will also more likely develop low back pain.
🤸 Engage your butt to bring the pelvis forward to distribute some of your weight over your feet. Curl your spine backwards beginning from the chest: Push the chest to the front and then upwards
to create length first and then use it for a tighter backbend. Find your balance with straight legs. If you still feel comfortable and safe, you can slowly bend your knees and turn the feet out
even more if it feels good. You can fully drop down as soon as you see the floor and your arms are prepared (= straight and shoulders close to the ears).
🤸 How to overcome your fear and stay safe? Drop back really slowly and go only as far as you feel safe. Use several basic mats (not too soft) stacked on each other. As soon as you're comfortable, you can remove one. Use a spotter protecting you from hitting the ground with your head. You can also try to walk down a wall or a door just to get a feeling for the trick - but don't stick to it too long, it doesn't help much with core engagement and balance!
🤸 How to avoid pain? Well, there are several things you can do which would be too complex to write them down and which highly depend on the individual. However, everyone will benefit from doing a
post backbend conditioning routine of at least 5 minutes containing exercises for the abs, obliques and the core after the backbending session - crunches for example and any kind of handstand
There's a bunch of details missing here because it's too complex to describe everything just with words. And usually an individual approach and in-person training is needed. I've added a video below (DEUTSCH!) so you can see the details of the bridge pose and the waterfall backbend. But please also check out my upcoming flexibility workshops!
Do you need a flexibility coach? If you wanna learn more about stretching, anatomy and effective stretching techniques, just contact me!
I do private classes, group classes and individualized training plans for anyone aiming to improve his*her general flexibility, splits or backbend.