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Do Kettlebell Swings Hurt Your Back

If your kettle bell lifting is causing back soreness, there may be a few things to look at and some effective habits to put into practice to help address it. The body is excellent at attempting to find balance, a kind of homeostasis that will have it function and perform, often at the expense of something somewhere.

author
Maria Johnson
• Saturday, 07 November, 2020
• 7 min read
lower kettlebell swings hurt
(Source: mojostrength.com.au)

It’s excellent at compensating, at “handing” faulty movement patterns, until it can’t handle them anymore. Don’t be a fool and rush in thinking things like mobility work is a waste of time.

I’ll address three possible reasons for back soreness and pain, and offer some ways to fix it. These come from my experience but is in no way an exhaustive list of what may be the cause or the absolute dos and don'ts.

Low back pain is a common complaint in Kettle bell sport, in particular for beginners. The upswing is all leg drive and momentum, (think about jumping backward) again keeping the weight over your base.

You should get a natural lean back of your torso as the Kettlebellswings up from the force of your leg drive, and your arm is relaxed and long. Back pain can creep up from not feeling the relaxation and tension needed to find the perfect rack position, or simply not having the mobility to get the Kettle bell on the hip.

The rack position: legs straight, hips forward, shoulders down and elbows low. I’ve seen lifters progress too quickly, only to have to backtrack and clean up their technique after an injury or an inability to handle increased volume or a heavier bell.

kettlebell lower swing pain
(Source: www.youtube.com)

It’s a good idea to be able to clean the Kettle bell and hold the rack position for 10 seconds before putting theKettlebells over your head! The overhead position is where more low back pain issues bear their ugly head.

If you’re in a hurry to load overhead without the mobility, stability, and strength to do so, all hell will break loose eventually. Instead, you may be leaning back with lumbar extension, with the Kettle bell out in front of your shoulder joint, and elbow bent.

Put your time in with proper technique, always quality over quantity and progression may be slow but solid as hell. It might not occur to some, that for seasoned lifters, years of competing may not be all that healthy if mobility and asymmetries are not taken care of.

Mobility must be created and maintained in order to set up the opportunity for continued stabilization and ultimately strength and stamina. The inability to get in that position may be due to a tight upper back, neck and shoulders.

You have to gain flexibility, release tight rotator cuff, lats, traps, and neck muscles. We use Active Release Therapy, the Big Stick, and Wall Slides-a mobility favorite from Michael Boyle.

kettlebell pain swing mistakes cause swings pulled doing experience then
(Source: kettlebellsworkouts.com)

I will often see extensive Lords in the lower back (your tail tips up and your belly pooches out), a forward head posture, and rounded shoulders. The ability for the spine to distribute load efficiently relies on your back, as a system being able to have the mobility and stability where it is supposed to be, and it is greatly limited by this dysfunctional posture.

Thoracic spine mobility can be gained with the foam roller, lacrosse balls, the Big Stick, and exercises like light barbell behind the neck presses. The psoas and the Iliads are powerful hip flexors that pull on your pelvis, causing it to tilt forward (this is that tail tipping up and belly pooching out position again).

This mobility recipe for disaster usually also means that your abdominal AND your low back are weak as hell. If you spend a lot of time addressing your mobility limitations like a mad person— this can look like only 10-15 minutes EVERY DAY you will reap the benefits!

Your Lower Back is Weak We get quality over quantity-slow the hell down in your training and master the proper techniques. If there is a lack of integrity anywhere along this system such as immobility in the thoracic spine, the compensation can cause a hypermobile (and weak) low back.

This instability can cause lower back pain and load bearing overhead might hurt you. To fix this, work in some thoracic spine mobility every day and strengthen your low back.

kettlebell swing injury pain prevent safety basic exercises should
(Source: kettlebell.me)

By the way, proper kettle bell lifting technique — swings and jerks — will strengthen and align your spine. That’s a fancy word for your muscles and joints ability to right itself, stabilize, react and interact with the outside world.

Lower back soreness can be greatly reduced by gaining mobility, stability, and strength in the shoulder. It is best used along with other exercises and techniques that increase range on motion and strength in the hips and upper back.

A1: Foam roll hip, T-spine extensions B1: Partner mobility rolls with the Big Stick-upper traps, lats x50-70 C1: T-spine mobility push/pulls and rib cage openers x 3-5 L/R D1: Wall Squats x 10| E1: Scorpion x 10 F1: Goblet Squats (with 2 sec pause) x 10 x 1-3 sets G1: Arm Bar x 1-5 reps L/R, hold for 5-20 belly breath H: Halos x 10 L/R If you have pulled your back doing kettlebellswings or you experience lower back pain after your swings then this is the article for you.

If you do suffer with any of the above conditions then poor technique can seriously aggravate your lower back and so it is not worth the risk for you. If you experience lower back pain while performing the basic hip hinge then you need to either work more on your technique or seek hands-on advice from a professional.

If you are performing the kettle bell swing correctly then you should feel your buttocks, hamstrings and core muscles working hard. If you have mastered the hip hinge, are swinging the kettle bell, but experiencing back pain then here are 7 reasons things may be going wrong:

kettlebell core pain swing swings eliminate strengthen body
(Source: www.consumerhealthdigest.com)

Controlling your pelvis is very important when performing any type of dead lift movement pattern including the kettle bell swing. Tight quads and weak inactive ab muscles can cause the pelvis to tilt forwards resulting in an arch at the lower back.

An excessive arch in the lower back (Lords) can pinch the nerves in the lumbar spine and disturb the intricacies of the vertebrae. How to fix it: stretch out your quads frequently by lying on your belly and pulling your heel to your buttocks, at the same time pushing your groin into the floor.

Secondly, brace your abs tight to prevent your pelvis from tilting forwards, think about pulling your tall between your legs. A common problem with so many exercises is an excessive backwards lean often resulting from bad proprioception and weakness in the core muscles.

Many people lean backwards during the swing because they lack the explosive strength from the hip drive to raise the kettle bell. Excessive back extension is very common when performing the American kettle bell swing and one reason I do not recommend it.

How to fix it: contract your abs and buttocks tight at the top of the swing and bring your tail between your legs. If you suffer from tight hamstrings then the movement at your pelvis will be restricted resulting with compensations at the lower back.

kettlebell swings pain
(Source: www.youtube.com)

The lower back should stay flat by isometrically contracting the muscles to maintain a neutral spine position throughout the swing. You may experience lower and middle back pain after yourkettlebellswings if you are making this swing mistake.

If you are trying to squat and swing at the same time then you will be overusing your arms and relying on your back muscles to maintain the kettle bell position out in front of you. When swinging correctly the power comes from the hips driving forwards and backwards and the arms merely control the kettle bell.

If you suffer from a weakness in the mid and lower traps then your shoulders may have a tendency to gravitate upwards as opposed to back and down. How to fix it: master the hip hinge, relax the arms and work on developing the scapula stabilizers with wall slides

A warm bath and massage can help stimulate blood flow and improve healing times but ultimately it will be a waiting game. Wait until you are fully healed before regressing the movement to the single arm dead lift and taking note of the 7 points mentioned above.

If you are recovering from a kettlebellback injury then wait until your back is fully healed before attempting the kettle bell swing again. Kettlebellswings are excellent for strengthening the lower back, but they do need to be performed correctly using a good quality hip hinge movement.

kettlebell pain swings low swing spine
(Source: breakawayfitnessandperformance.com)

Statistically, back pain has a tendency to go into and come out of remission and though the symptoms can be relieved, often the problem remains unless we get to the cause. Muscular imbalance and a misfiring recruitment pattern of the posterior chain muscles are common prerequisites of low back pain, often as a result of bad posture from imbalanced or lack of muscular tone.

Fortunately, time, energy and resources for rehab and prevention can be optimized by utilizing Kettle bell Swings as a practical solution when compared to other expensive, lengthy, and sometimes invasive methods of treatment for low back issues. Keeping a kettle bell under your desk and performing KettlebellSwings for one minute each hour may alleviate your back pain and trim your waistline” — Dr Patrick Roth, Neurosurgeon practicing in New Jersey

If your glutes are weak, or ‘inactivated’ when lifting or extending your hip, your lower back is going to compensate for the larger, more powerful gluteal muscles. By educating your muscles how to hip hinge correctly before practicing the Kettle bell Swing will fire up your CNS to perform the exercise optimally and shorten time in getting results.

If you don’t have a pipe or dowel, achieve neutral spine by making points of contact while standing back against a wall, tuck your chin to lengthen your cervical spine all the way to the top, making contact with the back of your head against the wall. Aim to not bend much at your knees and return to start position by driving through your heels and activating your glutes and hamstrings to extend your hips.

“One small kettle bell hidden under a desk in the office can provide time-effective back and hamstring strengthening, along with hip-flexor stretching”

Sources
1 www.onnit.com - https://www.onnit.com/academy/3-reasons-kettlebell-back-pain/
2 kettlebellsworkouts.com - https://kettlebellsworkouts.com/kettlebell-swing-mistakes-back-pain/
3 www.onnit.com - https://www.onnit.com/academy/why-the-kettlebell-swing-is-the-solution-for-low-back-pain/