Avoiding Cervical Compression and the Dangers of Headstand

The headstand can be quite challenging posture for many reasons. When it comes to practicing inversions, it’s important to use your head… to make the right decisions, NOT for supporting your bodyweight!

Did you know the average human head weighs about 10 pounds? Take that into consideration when practicing inversions during a yoga class! More specifically, think about how your neck has developed it’s natural curve to evenly distribute the weight of a small microwave atop the rest of your body.  This is thanks, largely in part, to the intricate system of bony vertebrae and soft discs known as your spine. 

For a quick visual reference, the average human head weighs about 10 pounds…
roughly equivalent to three 2-liter bottles of liquid or a small microwave!

When practicing a conventional yoga headstand, one literally flips this rather delicate and uniquely designed system upside down. There are two types of forces present in all structures: Tension (forces that pull apart) and Compression (forces that squeeze together). The cervical spine (aka your neck) normally balances the weight equivalent of three two-liter bottles worth of compression (your head). When inverted, one can easily dump over 10 times (60 liters!) that amount (your body from the neck down)… without even taking the effect of gravity and shifting balance into consideration! Regardless of how still it may (or may not) feel, there are a LOT of moving parts to account for in a headstand.

Each of the spinal discs between your vertebrae are commonly described like little jelly donuts (softer centers within tougher exteriors) and are essentially shock absorbers to deal with everyday spinal compression. When overly compressed, however, one runs the risk of developing a herniated disc where the tough outer shell ruptures and the soft insides are exposed. This can happen from an immediate trauma or develop slowly over time due to poor alignment in the form of a bulging disc. 

As the spine is the main pathway of nerves throughout your whole body, damage to the vertebrae or spinal discs is bad news. While spinal a certain amount of spinal degradation from wear and tear due to age is expected, one needs to pay close attention to both cervical posture and general alignment when practicing headstands! Regardless of the issue that causes it— be it one wrong move or years of poor form— damage to your spine can be both extremely painful and life-threatening… not to mention potentially long-lasting and permanently immobilizing.

Thankfully, we can end this on a high note! If the thought of irreversible spinal harm during an inversion is frightening, we’re happy to report that the FeetUp Trainer reduces the amount of cervical compression to ZERO by distributing your weight and gravity elsewhere. In fact, your head and neck can experience a lengthening tension in the form of gravitational traction when practicing inversion on a FeetUp!

Safe, stable, and easy to use… paying attention to your spine as never been this fun, thanks to your FeetUp Trainer!

Enjoying a cervical compression-free inversion with nary a three liter bottle or small microwave anywhere in sight…
no headstand required!

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