Gymnastics Stretching for Back Walkovers

Female gymnast stretching, studio shot

Gymnastics is a sport that requires flexibility, strength and balance. The back walkover is a basic gymnastics skill that requires all three of these elements. Back and shoulder flexibility are particularly important when learning a back walkover. When performed properly, the back walkover can help a gymnast prepare for more challenging skills such as back handsprings.

The Back Walkover

The back walkover is performed by standing with all of your weight on your back leg with your leading leg in front or held at a 90-degree angle. Your arms should be by your ears and your posture should be straight. Lean back in a controlled manner and place your hands on the floor with your shoulders over your hands. Your front leg should move backward while you are placing your hands on the floor. You should pass through a handstand in a split position and finish in a lunge or a scale.

The Bridge Stretch

Back and shoulder flexibility are essential when performing a back walkover and the bridge stretch is a great way to work on both. Lie on your back with your hands by your ears and your feet flat on the floor. Push up into the bridge position and try to keep your arch high to help your back flexibility. Push your legs until they are straight and make sure your shoulders are directly over your hands. If you are extremely flexible, you may be able to push your shoulders past your hands. Once you are able to kick over from the bridge position, you are ready to attempt a back walkover.

The Shoulder Stretch

Shoulder flexibility is a necessary but often overlooked part of performing a back walkover. In addition to a bridge, you can stretch your shoulders using other methods. While standing in a pike position, lean forward and place your hands on a block or table. Have a coach gently press your shoulders toward the floor while keeping your arms straight. Another method for shoulder stretching is to sit on the floor in a pike position with your arms over your head. Have a coach stand behind you with her legs against your back to keep it straight. Your coach will gently pull your arms backward while you keep them straight. These stretches help to increase shoulder flexibility in the direction needed for the back walkover.


It is important to keep in mind that gymnastics is an inherently risky sport. All skills should be performed under the supervision of a gymnastics coach and the appropriate equipment should be available.