Hand walking

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An acro dancer handwalks across the stage. HandWalking.gif
An acro dancer handwalks across the stage.

Hand walking is an unusual form of human locomotion in which a person travels in a vertically inverted orientation with all body weight resting on the hands. It can be executed with legs fully extended or with variations such as stag, straddle or front splits. Hand walking is performed in various athletic activities, including acro dance and circus acrobatics.


Skills and technique

Hand walking is a skill that relies on a prerequisite ability to perform handstands, which in turn requires adequate upper body pressing strength in the deltoids and triceps as well as a heightened sense of balance and spatial awareness. Because the body is inverted during hand walking, blood pressure in the brain is greater than normal.

Hand walking often elicits automatic, alternating leg movements similar to upright bipedal locomotion. Research shows that these leg movements are caused in part by neural coupling between arm and legs. [1]

As with other physical skills, one must practice hand walking in order to become proficient and develop adequate endurance. Handstands and hand walking are often learned at the same time because hand walking can be used to help maintain balance in a handstand before one learns to perform a stable handstand. Balance can also be maintained by varying the arch of the back.

In non-human animals

Some quadrupeds are able to walk bipedally on their forelimbs, thus performing "hand" walking in an anthropomorphic sense. For example, when attacked, the spotted skunk may rear up and move about on its forelimbs so that its anal glands, capable of spraying an offensive oil, are directed towards the attacker. Dogs and sealions can also be trained to walk on their forelimbs.

See also

Related Research Articles

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Bipedalism is a form of terrestrial locomotion where an organism moves by means of its two rear limbs or legs. An animal or machine that usually moves in a bipedal manner is known as a biped, meaning "two feet". Types of bipedal movement include walking, running and hopping.

Walking Gait of locomotion among legged animals

Walking is one of the main gaits of terrestrial locomotion among legged animals. Walking is typically slower than running and other gaits. Walking is defined by an 'inverted pendulum' gait in which the body vaults over the stiff limb or limbs with each step. This applies regardless of the usable number of limbs—even arthropods, with six, eight, or more limbs, walk.


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Calisthenics Form of exercise consisting of a variety of exercises, often rhythmical

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Upper limb

The upper limbs or upper extremities are the forelimbs of an upright-postured tetrapod vertebrate, extending from the scapulae and clavicles down to and including the digits, including all the musculatures and ligaments involved with the shoulder, elbow, wrist and knuckle joints. In humans, each upper limb is divided into the arm, forearm and hand, and is primarily used for climbing, lifting and manipulating objects.

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Knuckle-walking is a form of quadrupedal walking in which the forelimbs hold the fingers in a partially flexed posture that allows body weight to press down on the ground through the knuckles. Gorillas and chimpanzees use this style of locomotion as do anteaters and platypuses.

Freeze (b-boy move)

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Handstand push-up

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Terrestrial locomotion

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Static trapeze

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Legged robot Type of mobile robot

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The evolution of human bipedalism, which began in primates about four million years ago, or as early as seven million years ago with Sahelanthropus, or about 12 million years ago with Danuvius guggenmosi, has led to morphological alterations to the human skeleton including changes to the arrangement and size of the bones of the foot, hip size and shape, knee size, leg length, and the shape and orientation of the vertebral column. The evolutionary factors that produced these changes have been the subject of several theories.

This is a general glossary of the terms used in the sport of gymnastics.

Comparative foot morphology

Comparative foot morphology involves comparing the form of distal limb structures of a variety of terrestrial vertebrates. Understanding the role that the foot plays for each type of organism must take account of the differences in body type, foot shape, arrangement of structures, loading conditions and other variables. However, similarities also exist among the feet of many different terrestrial vertebrates. The paw of the dog, the hoof of the horse, the manus (forefoot) and pes (hindfoot) of the elephant, and the foot of the human all share some common features of structure, organization and function. Their foot structures function as the load-transmission platform which is essential to balance, standing and types of locomotion.

Crawling or quadrupedal movement is a method of human locomotion that makes use of all four limbs. It is one of the earliest gaits learned by human infants, and has similar features to four-limbed movement in other primates and in non-primate quadrupeds.

Arm swing in human locomotion

Arm swing in human bipedal walking is a natural motion wherein each arm swings with the motion of the opposing leg. Swinging arms in an opposing direction with respect to the lower limb reduces the angular momentum of the body, balancing the rotational motion produced during walking. Although such pendulum-like motion of arms is not essential for walking, recent studies point that arm swing improves the stability and energy efficiency in human locomotion. Those positive effects of arm swing have been utilized in sports, especially in racewalking and sprinting.


  1. Sylos-Labini, Francesca (7 March 2014). "Locomotor-Like Leg Movements Evoked by Rhythmic Arm Movements in Humans". PLOS. Retrieved 19 May 2020.