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The handstand test

Expert insight:

This exercise builds mobility as well as upper-body and core strength, says Ranah Farkhondeh, Tier X coach at E Madison Avenue in New York City. But to protect your shoulders and low back during handstands, your toes, knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, and wrists should be stacked. For that to happen, your wrists need to be bent at 90 degrees.

To see if you’re ready, try this test: Face a wall a few feet in front of you and extend your arms straight ahead with palms forward, as if telling someone to stop. Step toward the wall until the palms are flat against it. If you can comfortably hold this position for about 30 seconds with your wrists at a right angle and without feeling a pull or stretch in the forearms, you’re ready to invert your body.

The bottom line:

Most people, especially those who work at computers all day, need to loosen the tendons before they can pass the test, Farkhondeh says.

She recommends the quadruped wrist stretch: Get on all fours with the fingers pointing toward your legs. Keeping your hands flat on the floor, shift your hips back as far as you can, hold for 5 seconds, then rock back to start. Repeat 10 to 20 times. Do this every night before bed to develop the necessary range of motion.