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Is your Hand to Hand WONKY? - Here's our top tips for dealing with Imbalances in Acro

Maybe you’re already experiencing this in your acro practice


Maybe you don't even know you have this issue.


Or if not, it will probably come up at some future time in your acro practice. 


In which case - save this email for later, because we are talking about...



Imbalances


The physical kind of imbalances.


- A wonky hand to hand.


- A twisted foot to hand.


- Uneven weight distribution.


- A good side star, and a work in progress side star


We’ve been battling this struggle for a while now and I want to share with you what we’ve learned and what has helped us in hopes that it will benefit you and your practice too!


Imbalances can show up in different ways and can have various causes.



First of all; most humans are not completely symmetrical in the first place.


Maybe one leg is slightly longer than the other or your spine is a bit curved. 


Maybe one side is stronger than the other, which is muscle imbalance.


Whatever it is, in most cases you don’t notice this in your day to day ‘normal people life’, but as soon as you stand in a foot to hand for example the imbalance can become visible or tangible.



Secondly, postural habits can create imbalances over time.


If you always stand with your weight mostly on one leg this can affect your body and for example make one hip and leg weaker.


And most people have a dominant hand/arm they use and even a dominant leg which is easier to coordinate or stronger.


The more you know about postural habits, the more you’ll recognize them in people.


This is useful, because it’s often subconscious. 


The more conscious we are about our own postural habits, the easier it is to change.


This takes time and repetition to build a new habit in the body and brain, but is very possible and achievable.



And third of all, (old) injuries can cause imbalances.


Let’s say you injure a muscle in your shoulder.


The smart way of the body in dealing with this is by compensation.


To let the injury heal the body will let other muscles in the shoulders work harder to compensate for the lack of function of the injured muscle to let this rest and heal.


This is a great temporary solution, but it’s important to retrain proper muscle engagement and function after injury to fully rehabilitate and get rid of any compensation.


Because compensation can lead to, you guessed it... imbalances.


So there you go; already three possible causes of imbalances that you can maybe check for yourself.



For me personally, I’ve been dealing with imbalances caused by injuries and postural habits.


Two and a bit years ago when our hand to hand was wonky we saw that it was coming from a big imbalance in my shoulders. 


I visited the physio and he explained that, due to a not properly rehabbed old shoulder injury, the muscles in my left shoulder were not firing normally.


I could not properly elevate my left shoulder, which obviously affected my handstand and hand to hand.


The exercises he gave me retrained the correct pathway and strength and completely corrected the imbalance, which I find so cool! How amazing is the body!


Just note that this took about a month of daily rehab to achieve.


I noticed after that month that I had to train more equally, because I was strengthening my ‘weak side’ so much that it caused imbalances the other way!



As for my postural habit; I have the tendency to stand with my weight mostly on my right leg which has led to my left leg and hip being weaker.


This imbalance shows up in foot to hands, so I’ve been more mindful when I’m standing to distribute my weight evenly and build a new habit.


Our goal is to have a perfectly straight and balanced alignment in acro skills (or as close to it as possible). 


That’s why we’re carefully working on our imbalances to fix and get rid of them.


And also because at a certain point, imbalances have an impact on your acro practice, if you are a bit twisted, in icarian moves some rotation and twist will happen where it shouldn't.


Or in dynamic hand to hand throws if more weight is on one hand it will be hard to throw straight.



Fixing imbalances or having a perfect alignment might not be the goal for everyone, but if you want to work on your imbalances too maybe these takeaways can help you get there!



1. Film yourself and identify who is causing the imbalance.


Wybren, an amazing acrobat with loads of acro experience, gave us a great tip.


To identify who is mainly causing the imbalance by trying the same pose in both directions.


I.e. if you have an imbalance in a hand to hand, do a regular and then a reverse and film both.


If the imbalance is occurring on the same side, both in regular and reverse hand to hand, then it's probably the base causing it.


If the imbalance is the opposite side in the regular hand to hand compared to the reverse, then it's probably the flyer who has the imbalance.



2. Stop compensating.


If one person has an imbalance the other person will likely compensate in the skill.


Again, the body is super smart and finds ways to make the alignment, balance or skill happen even if it has to compensate, but this is not helpful to fix it.


If you stop compensating for your partner the imbalance will become more visible which allows you to correct it together.



3. Go to a physio or medical professional.


The benefit that this has given me is huge. 


Thanks to a professional assessment, treatment and the effective exercises I was able to get rid of my compensation.


So in case you’re doubting, I would highly recommend it!



4. Fix your mindset


This might be underrated, but it’s been a game changer for me. 


I’ve been working on several aspects of my mindset lately also regarding to acro.


It’s been so frustrating to see my imbalances coming back regularly! Aaahhggrr!


One week we put a lot of time and effort into our alignment and basically get rid of our imbalances and then a couple weeks later, after not training for a bit for example, it’s back again!


Or a totally new imbalance appears!


During our recent 50hr training we obviously didn’t train for 2 weeks due to the training and Cas’s injury and during our first session after the training we jump a hand to hand and really, I couldn’t be more wonky!


That was it. I was so done with it! 


I’ve had enough from being wonky! Slightly grumpy and frustrated on the bike back home I thought by myself:


‘I’m going to set my mindset to: I’m not going to be imbalanced anymore!’.


And it’s paying off! I’m doing more drills and went into today’s session with that mindset and the activation the drills taught me and voila: I was pretty much straight! 


Owyeah!



So these 4 tips have proven to be super helpful for us and our acro practice in the ongoing battle of fighting our imbalances.


I’m curious what you’ll notice once you analyze your postural habits and training videos!


I hope this email was insightful and feel free to reach out with any questions or share how imbalances come up in your practice.



Catch you in the next one, Ciao!


Laura




Hand to Hand Acro




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