Transcript of Episode 54: The Two-Foot Stand
EL: Hello and welcome back to the Handstand Cast with me, Emmet Louis, and my cohost Mikael Kristiansen.
MK: I am currently caffeinated for the first time today, so I guess the general mood is improving from not great to acceptable.
EL: I’m already onto my third. Have you split it yet today?
MK: I didn’t have any butter to fry my eggs so I took my house mate’s mix of oil and garbage, some kind of fluid butter. I took it out of the fridge, dropped it on the floor and it splatted everywhere. That was miserable. The spillage itself was reasonably contained, no Chernobyl effect. I was able to get it up with one smooth…napkin.
EL: One spill a day keeps the … handstand fairy away.
MK: Shit now I just spilled my coffee.
EL: He just spilled coffee on his own arm that was holding the coffee cup.
MK: To quote Tyrone from Snatch: “It was a funny angle.”
EL: Infinite Wednesday continues.
I can’t wait until we can tell people that has ended and we did something different. I went to a bar and drank 15 Guinness in one sitting. That’s a record, by the way – set it myself.
The topic of our podcast today is something we get questions about a lot. We are going to talk about the two footed foot stand. It’s quite common for a lot of you out there, the foot standing. But people haven’t got any formal teaching on this.
I taught myself to foot stand many years go.
MK: I guess, I learned it myself too. A lot of people are self taught on it, most are. Then again, it’s the question of how well do you want to do foot stand. If you really want proper form, and want to be super good at it, like being able to jump and all those things, the better technique is going to carry over over the years.
EL: When I first started to foot stand, I remember holding onto something, in the transition from quadruped footstand – plank movements – and like in handstands, it’s common: try to stand, fall over. Try, fall over. Stand a bit longer, then fall over. It’s that repeated process of success and failure that educated the good form in there, more so than a set teaching.
MK: It’s almost as if the brain and body structure has an inherent property that comes to learning this balance, and it’s an intuitive process the body goes through.
Most people learn a foot stand when very young, so they have no intellectualization of the process. It’s basically a try and fail kind of thing, that goes on all day, every day for a period in life until the stability is built. It’s a very important takeaway in all learning; it’s the continuous, relentless practice of it that eventually leads to results.
Particularly since here it’s so early, and there’s been a lot of brain and body research of course on the youths learning it. It’s such a universal thing, practically everyone who doesn’t have any significant body or brain conditions that hinder learning the foot stand, will almost automatically start to do it.
EL: When you’re learning as children, there’s a concept, like the Federation of the straight stand versus normal standing. It’s interesting when we go back to the roots of Physical Culture, and training. A lot it came from army discipline, lots of march like, straight alert postures. Straight is now the default posture you have to do your foot stand in.
If we look around the world, there is variety, not one true way of foot standing. There’s so much, “You must stand up straight! And not drop your head.” There’s different ways – the Federation has imposed this idea that you must stand completely straight, whereas we are saying, maybe you want to slouch. Maybe the foot stand can be a relaxing posture; you don’t always have to tense. You can be selective in your tension in the foot stand.
MK: It’s hilarious, the amount of postural hysteria out there. “You have to stand like this, or else you will basically break your body.” I’ve seen loads of this. I get this on my Instagram. You have someone standing in a normal posture…one with a green tick mark, and the one picture with the red X, where they stand excessively slouched in the upper back, or arching the back, stuff like this. It’s a position that most people don’t do. It’s anyway not something that by default will ruin your entire existence.
It’s a good sales pitch to tell you that you need to do things exactly this way. And guess what? I know how to teach you that! 😉
EL: You must stand completely straight with your knees locked and stomach sucked in. It’s like it’s not cool to have your organs in their correct position; you must pull them up into the ribcage at all times. This forwards super hero posturing…
Posture as a communication tool – this hero standing got popular with that TED talk a few years ago. If you stand in your alpha dominant superhero posture, you become more…alpha dominant, better hormones and all this. Then they repeated the studies-
MK: It’s one of the dumbest things I ever heard.
EL: and it doesn’t work the second time around. But it became a myth. I remember people teaching the Power Posing Method, and Power Posing Stand. Hero Posing….
It shows that posture as a communication tool – what manifests the posture in the straight stand and stuff is the internal ‘what’s going on inside.’ That’s the manifestation of it. If you do the outward form of it, it doesn’t actually give you the internal thing.
If you extrapolate the foot stand as more advanced variants of acting, a lot of acting and dancing is looking for trying to make an internal process visible, and not have an external process affect the inside. That’s just a form of body wanking.
MK: Let’s say you go into a class where someone is going to teach you Power Posing, and explicitly tell you you are going to stand confidently, and it will make you feel like this or like this. They’re asking leading questions and that stuff – of course there will be an effect there.
It’s almost part of that Toxic Positivity thing – “Just try to stand like this and it will help you.” Then you try to stand like that, and guess what? It didn’t actually help. Your emotional state might be bound up to more fundamental human needs than how you’re standing. Then it doesn’t work, and you feel even more shit. “The great trick I learned didn’t automatically activate my happy hormones.”
EL: There’s a great meme going around at the moment. The guy with the epic chin and beard. It goes, “I don’t feel confident, I should go to the gym,” The next screen is him with loads of jacked muscles, “That wasn’t it, I still feel like shit.”
It leads up to the next question – how much core strength do you need to have to the straight stand? For slouching or relaxing, people say you don’t have enough core strength to do the straight standing. I don’t know; I feel you need to work up to about a 15min plank before attempting the straight stand.
MK: It can be a good indicative, at least. Then you have the ability to resist gravity when you are on a horizontal plane. The degree that carries over to when all the bones are stacked on top of each other will be very obvious.
I do think it’s a good benchmark if anything.
That kind of stuff – crunches. And always being hyperaware about exactly how you stand, and trying to manipulate that, and also when you sit so you’re never slouched or any posture that doesn’t look like you’re an architectural contraption.
EL: What I found useful when learning straight standing was to cut all the backs off all the chairs-
MK: That’s how it was in ancient times too. No one would sit down next to a tree and lean their back, or sit on a soft surface. They’d all look for exactly straight rocks to get the specific straightness of their spine.
EL: I feel like this idea of imposing straightness on nature – we look at curves and spirals in nature, but it doesn’t bode well. I prefer this Victorian Imperialism of imposing straight lines onto everything.
For me, thinking back to the greatest invention of manking, it was when we figured out which rocks we could chisel into straight lines, then copy them with our own standing posture.
In my house, I only have straight walls. If anyone knows about Irish building, it’s very negligent re right angles.
But for me, and my straight stand, I need that right angle to align myself perfectly.
MK: I’ve seen on Instagram, another pic with a check mark and red cross – you see them loads in commercials for beds. ‘You lie on the bed and the spine is curved. You are ruined forever.’ Then you have the one with a little pillow under your back, or a 10 000 euro bed that magically keeps your spine straight, and it’s going to fix all your issues…
EL: The problem with these orthotic things and body straight-erizers – we have the inverted one we use for handstand training that puts you in perfect inversion – is it doesn’t really train a lot of the muscular control and subtle body control skills we need in the straight stand. We are trying to stand with our stomachs sucked in, head tall, all this stuff.
If you’re relying on the machine to put you in that thing, you always have to wear the machine.
MK: Maybe that’s an argument in terms of spotting kids as parents, when you hold them up a bit so they get more time holding the weight, when the legs aren’t strong and smart enough yet to hold the balance.
Maybe there should be more research done on the efficacy of spotting a baby learning to stand on their feet, in relation to just letting them try.
Maybe that should also be applied for kids, a lot more plank before they stand, with a conditioning regime of sets and reps, rather than randomly trying to stand. Then you can create a specific protocol that you just have the baby do.
EL: A lot of what is probably lacking in the foot stand is your parents don’t have a formal education. They don’t understand you have to engage in about 15 min of foot prep before yo do it.
You have to do your toe raises, your calf raises, inversions, eversions…all these things, before you can do it. You have to know how to scale these back to your level. It leads nicely into one of our questions.
This is from Little Timmy, who is 11 months old: “My parents want me to work up to ten minute standing using the wall before learning to walk. Do you think this is excessive?”
I feel like you should be doing 45 minutes standing by the wall. You are small at this age so it should be fine, before trying the free balancing foot stand.
MK: Probably less risk of getting injured and falling too. Then again, falling over, you learn falling technique. Babies are really good at bracing and putting their ass on the ground, since they are so small.
EL: Once you’re able to do the 10-15 minutes, you can probably try free balancing. If you want, you can wear 2-3 nappies to pad it up a little and make it extra safe.
MK: Fair point.
EL: 45 minutes minimum standing against the wall is pretty good at this stage.
MK: If you get a job one day that requires standing, it’s important that your posture is spot on. There is also walking, in regards to stand versus walk. You need to be able to stand to walk on your feet. It’s not really the case on the hands, to the same degree, but on the feet it’s mandatory to be able to stand.
Having some standards for that is good, so you can start having the ability to walk. You might need to do stuff like go to the shop, or even to move from point A to point B, it’s relevant. When you get to point B, you might need to do stuff while you stand, as well.
EL: How are you going to get on the swing set at the park if you can’t stand up yet? You have to think about this as well. It’s good here to set some hard pre requisite standards before doing anything. 45 minutes minimum.
That leads us to the next question. I’m not going to say who said this, because it’s a bit embarrassing, but: “How should I breathe when standing?”
MK: There’s many thoughts about that. You could choose to breathe normally and let the air flow in and out, as your nervous system does itself. You can also choose to obsessively focus on your breathing; that will likely help you manage your life by overcomplicating your breathing pattern all the time. Not just while meditating, but imagining that you’re basically attributing your emotional and mental state only to your breathing, then consistently over focus on it.
There’s a chance you will feel as if it doesn’t help, and you will get frustrated and start searching for a new breathing pattern, or a jumping in cold water breathing pattern, or what not.
The most important is to make sure air comes in, and air also leaves. You keep this a continuous process, where it doesn’t stop. That can be a problem, particularly if for a long period of time, it’s really hard, or even impossible, to start again.
Just make sure, above everything, the air comes in, exits, then after that it comes in again. And repeat the pattern.
EL: With the straight stand, the full straight military spec stand, you have to be careful of not breathing too deep into your abdomen. You don’t want it to go deep; keep it nice and shallow in the rib cage. Otherwise, let’s face it, your stomach is going to push out. That will be unattractive on your Instagram photos. So keep the air in the ribcage.
MK: Particularly for photos, make sure you don’t do that, the lighting is good…make sure the likelihood of being picked up by Gym Shark is high.
EL: This leads perfectly into our next one on aesthetics. Is it okay to stand with closed hips, aka anterior pelvic tilt?
I suppose we could equate this to our normal handstand standing. Some people will stand in the arched handstand. We know this was an aesthetic choice back in the day. It appears that the anterior pelvic tilt has become more of an aesthetic choice.
You see this a lot in sports models on Instagram. They choose to stand with anterior pelvic tilt because they decided they prefer the aesthetic. A lot of them are capable of standing straight. There is a bit of a choice there.
If you have too much flexion and can’t get into a straight line because of this, maybe you need to stretch your glutes and hip flexors, and stuff like this, to get into it. A lot of the time, what we are looking for is to choose if I’m standing with my butt pushed out, or am I choosing to stand straight?
What’s the benefits in these photos? What angle am I being shot from?
MK: It’s certainly relevant questions to ask yourself. When you start putting this together, in terms of the aesthetics you want, how you breathe, who you want to observe all this – all these parts will be relevant. Also the choice of clothing…and that is entirely up to you.
In terms of the efficiency of what you’re doing, which may or may not be most important, you should always make sure to consciously obsess about every little detail, so you are hyper aware. In case you make mistakes, everyone is going to notice! You are going to feel shame, and it is going to be terrible. You are going to deserve all the same.
EL: You always have to be aware. I remember I worked on a show, a pantomime, some background juggling. The director was obsessed: “T n’ T!! Show me your T n’ T!!” What he meant by that was, ‘show me your tits and teeth.’ I think it’s a think in pantomimes, a sort of Christmas play with fairy tales and stuff like this, they have all singing and dancing casts.
If you weren’t smiling and sticking your chest out on the stage, he would stop whatever was going on in the scene, even if you were in the background. He’d fucking shout at you, “T and T!”
So remember guys, tits and teeth. It’s very important and will give a nice upwards posture. Always look forwards, never look down.
The next question we have: “I have trouble straight standing a lot of the time. I find myself drifting in to a bit of lordosis or kyphosis (postural curves of the spine). I find my spine is not straight enough. Do you think a corset would help me straighten my spine out?”
MK: It will likely – you need to teach your body to do these things – so you might be better off learning to develop belly button magic, for a lot of other contexts. So that will be a better solution.
EL: The corset can be incredibly useful for maintaining the stomach withdrawal in posture we’re looking for, and also trying to squish the organs up into the chest, to get that big chest forward posture, to help the head inflate a bit with pressure.
The problem with the corset is two things going on. One, you need more core work, maybe 20-30 mins plank, to balance out the corset. This is because you won’t be doing as much control yourself. There is this.
There is a tendency with a lot of people with corsets to do them too tight. That can give an over emphasis on the waist look. But this could be desirable! If it’s in your context, the way you do your straight standing, it could be fine.
If you do burlesque, or you’re a model, or you want to look better in your work clothes – you could have a corset there. This is the thing; if you get a properly fitted one, it could be pretty good. At the same time, wearing a cheap one or one that doesn’t fit you is probably not the best in this situation.
This is not a serious podcast at the moment, so I won’t tell it, but remind me to tell about the Tango class story at some point.
MK: I will hold you to that.
It reminded me of those posture training things they’re selling, straps you put over your shoulders to pull them back, retracted. They probably cost several hundred euros, highly marketed, and sells it to you by telling you you’re already broken and need fixing. It’s very likely true. You need to use this, since your biology and the millions of years of evolution has led to a body structure, to a point where we discovered and created this because the body just wasn’t capable enough. It also peaks evolution at that point, when it becomes self aware enough to create a tool to sort out its upper body posture by a couple of fucking straps for 200 euros.
EL: That bowtie is definitely reaching peak evolution. I even remember an ad of the girl with the tic, she’s got the red X because she’s not standing straight. Then someone puts the bowtie on and cranks it up; the tic turns green. That was very inspirational for me actually, to see how confident this person became when they cranked up the strap really hard.
It made me think – what other areas of my life could I use a strap in?
With the bowtie thing, I think that people haven’t pushed it hard enough. If we see the benefits this girl got on her Instagram ad that spammed me for a long time, I feel it’s not corrective enough. It’s a passive control thing. All we need is to mix in an active reminder. Possibly a loud alarm that goes off whenever you slouch, maybe a cattle prod. Some people would say a mild electric shock. I’m thinking we crank the voltage a little. Let’s face it; you don’t want to be caught in the background of someone’s snap with bad posture.
We get the bowtie, and the second you slouch, it lets off a really loud flashing alarm, so everyone looks at you. Not only do you have the control of the device, but also the societal shame, because your alarm went off. At the same time, once everyone is looking at you, you’re getting electrocuted to reinforce the shame of peoples’ eyes upon you.
MK: Circling back to social media and all the Foot Stand posting, all the gym girl dudes on steroids..they’re pretty good at footstanding, but also have good control of the lat spread, and looking into the distance with the sharp eyes that look super focused and goal oriented. That is certainly one to master if you want to make sure other people think you’re highly successful and smart.
There’s another one, the more posture of the executive, that rather wears an expensive suit. The looking into the distance this is common – eyes on the horizon, looking above and beyond what others would do. They have that chin up posture.
You talked about the chest forwards, but the focus is not on the muscle this time, but the sharpness of the look and the decisive attitude on display by the posturing and very precise engineering of the entire photograph.
EL: Posture is dictated as an almost internal communication tool. These people are obviously very focused and dedicated, and that is what makes their posture so expansive and straight – they’re straight focused on their goal.
A celebrity who is a bit shit at this is Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. They’re not focused on their goals, their companies are a bit too big, too mismanaged. You never really see them in this posture. They’re mediocre and minor celebrities, but there is a good contrast between the entrepreneurs who are really hustling hard, CEOs.
MK: There’s almost a proportional relationship between how good you are at this posing and your direct success. You have people like Steve Jobs, walking around like a doofus. You made a company, who cares.
Then you have real deal people who consequently show how good their companies are. They don’t worry about having your company being the largest on the stock market…they own several websites, rarely even talk about what company they own and what they sell.
EL: You know it through their posture. I don’t even need to know their brand.
MK: They mastered the power posing, the way of standing up for yourself and being glorious, no matter what the others say. They’re really good at employing the concept of other people being jealous and haters, when they call them out for shit.
That’s something where you use the correct posturing, look into the horizon with a sharp look, and you add something in the caption about other people who just want to pull you down to your level, or something.
EL: It’s the Wolf posture, the Lone Wolf – very important.
MK: Super true. They often use the Wolf of Wall Street footage, a guy who got thrown in jail for being a total cunt. But that doesn’t matter. There’s loads of images from the movie where Leo is looking cool, having big parties, and we take that out of context.
All the being thrown in jail, and fraud, and all that stuff, is irrelevant. All you need to know is: “Check it out, I’m sharp as fuck. I know how to pose it.”
All of it starts with the foot stand. This circles all the way back to what you need to master. You need to know the basics. Slowly but surely, you find what you want to do with the foot stand, whether being an elite runner, or just standing there holding your ground, showing the world how much you’re worth.
EL: This leads to our next question nicely. “Long time listener to the podcast, you’re doing great work, guys. Keep it up. I was wondering: I haven’t got a lot of time, very busy person, sit down all day at a desk. Can I learn to foot stand by practicing twice a week?”
If you really max out the plank and possibly some other crunches, you can get a lot of work done twice a week. Then you have to do your foot conditioning as well. There is a lot that goes into this.
But, you can probably get some practice done. Normally you want to segue back…it’s that goal of, you want to train as much as possible. If you can only train twice a week, that’s all you can do, you have to make it worthwhile.
You could possibly start working while holding a plank. Normally, that’s what I do, typing at my desk while holding a plank most of the day. I wouldn’t suggest that to anyone listening when starting out. You have to be a monster like myself.
MK: Don’t you have a friend who is a posture expert?
EL: We asked Dr Beck. Dr Beck is a friend of mine who is a posture expert. You know this because he’s a self proclaimed doctor. Well actually, that’s terrible. He’s a real doctor. And he’s actually a posture expert. He had a few things…he had a question for us actually.
“Do I need orthotics to have a good foot stand?” For those who don’t know, orthotics force you foot into an arch. There’s a genuine need for this. You obviously need to speak to your chiropodist and foot doctor to see if you need one. But I think a lot of people can benefit from this kind of thing.
Like, everyone needs their toes to point forwards when standing, at all times. Even when turning a corner, you feet need to point forward. Maybe a jump would help, jump and turn 90º to bend the corner, so your feet always point the way.
MK: Good idea, then you don’t need to twist the knees.
EL: Twisting is unattractive in a straight foot stand.
MK: It reminds me – to go into advanced foot standing, I’m really not good at this but have a little bit of experience with high heels. When I was performing with Seven Fingers many years ago, there was a scene where I was playing the prostitute. That was literally the name of the character.
I was pulling a Chinese pole on stage, from the backstage, this huge house structure. I was wearing a little night dress and fucking enormous high heels. It was 15cm and had a plateau on the front of the shoe. The heel was quite thick, specifically constructed. I would have died in stilettos, I don’t have the skills.
I remember, I had to walk on stage with those, and it was rough, a big struggle. I had to rig the pole and walk towards the audience while giving a sharp fancy look, turn to the right, and walk off stage.
With this scene, in terms of walking, the scene was never as funny as it intended to be when I did it. The guy who used to play the show before me, the scene must have been funny with him as he has huge afro hair.
I was always expecting people to laugh more than they did. I remember I was walking there, and it was difficult in those shoes. I didn’t have the posturing of the feet and so on.
I was walking on the stage. The rigger of the show was a girl named Marie France. She told me, “I know why the scene isn’t funny. You walk too much like a man. You’re not good at walking in heels.” So she and another woman gave me a workshop on walking on heels. After that, the scene got funny. People started to laugh when I turned around and walked towards the audience. It was quite specific.
Obviously there, my leg placement and the way I moved was not comfortable enough. Lo and behold, I was almost dying, walking in those shoes. That was very interesting, in terms of how you posture.
EL: It’s interesting with the heels. There is probably a very specific technique. Subverting gender expectations is quite topical nowadays as well. Women are..the normal role is wearing the high heels. Then when men wear them, it’s considered feminine.
We need to come around and say, anyone can wear high heels.
MK: I’m not blind to it, but I have so many friends who wear all kinds of weird things and do all kinds of weird stuff. It’s become almost, in my little circle, normalized to see all those sorts of variations. A couple friends of mine from the UK, every time I see them, I’m like, what the hell is he wearing? I don’t care, it looks awesome, just very unconventional. I can certainly appreciate that.
EL: I think we covered most of the questions.
I suppose the whole point of this podcast is to announce, we have a new program on Handstand Factory called Stand. Check it out. If you haven’t seen it on social media, you can see it on the show notes. Please check out the program Stand. It teaches you everything you need to know to do the two footed straight foot stand. It’s pretty advanced, I won’t lie to you guys. It goes into some deep concepts.
We’ve got our team slaving away. It’s like all our other programs. You get a lot of videos. You get a manual. You get me and Mikael, what more do you need? We are pretty good at standing on our feet. We do it for hours sometimes.
We did a ton of foot standing while filming this too. Hardcore.
To get Stand, please check it out on Handstand Factory dot com slash Stand. It’s in the show notes.
Other than that, thanks for checking us out this week. We’ll get back to you next week.
This is an April Fool’s, by the way.