By John Salak –
No one is picking on Sir Paul McCartney, age 78, who raved about how he finishes his workouts with a headstand. That goes for Bruce Ives of British Columbia, who set a Guinness World Record earlier this year by being the oldest man to perform a headstand when he went heels over head at age 82. Prince Harry even claims that the newly crowned king, King Charles III, did regular headstands in his underwear to relieve neck and back pain from old polo injuries.
Good for them and the thousands, if not millions, who promote and practice Sirsasana headstands, claiming it clears the mind and improves blood flow, among other potential benefits. But are they good for a person, and what about the potential headstand risks involved? If nothing else, doing a headstand means the head is responsible for holding up to almost half of a person’s body weight —which is not always a sound idea, especially if the person involved has medical conditions.
People who claim the benefits of flipping over provide some research to support these claims. Other studies are more dubious about some of the touted benefits, and even the headstand dangers that could be involved.
“In a headstand, blood flow returns back to the head from the legs, and this could cause neurological conditions including stroke,” warned Dr. Robert Saper of the Cleveland Clinic.”The dangers would include a significant amount of pressure on the spine and neck,” Saper adds. “If there’s degeneration, a headstand can exacerbate that.”
Headstands And Neck Injuries
Healthline.com specifically adds to avoid headstands for those with neck, shoulder or back issues, as well as those with osteoporosis, heart conditions, individuals with high or low blood pressure concerns, or people with eye problems, such as glaucoma. Children under the age of seven should not perform headstands at all, and pregnant women should also give it a pass unless they are working under a trained supervisor.
Even those without any of these concerns need to approach the practice in a controlled manner under the guidance of experienced and qualified instructors, according to various recommendations.
So yes, headstands may deliver all they promise. But just a heads up to King Charles, Sir Paul and Bruce from British Columbia, among others, think first before flipping out over headstands.