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Is Kettlebell Swing Bad For Back

Below I have detailed who should not be using the kettlebellswing, how to master the hip hinge before you start the swing and how to recover from a kettlebellback injury.

author
Paul Gonzalez
• Tuesday, 03 November, 2020
• 19 min read
glute why kettlebell swing bridges pain
(Source: rehabrenegade.com)

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 kettlebellswing 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: Controlling your pelvis is very important when performing any type of dead lift movement pattern including the kettlebellswing.

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.

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(Source: www.youtube.com)

Excessive back extension is very common when performing the American kettlebellswing 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. The lower back should stay flat by isometrically contracting the muscles to maintain a neutral spine position throughout the swing.

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. The arms do have a role to play when performing the kettlebellswing but only as a means of holding the kettle bell, all power for the swing is generated from the hips.

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.

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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. First make sure you have mastered the kettle bell hip hinge some will cross over with the 7 kettlebellswing mistakes listed above.

Kettle bell swings are excellent for strengthening the lower back, but they do need to be performed correctly using a good quality hip hinge movement. 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.

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. “Learning to hip hinge is paramount for both injury prevention and optimal performance”

By educating your muscles how to hip hinge correctly before practicing the KettlebellSwing 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.

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(Source: yurielkaim.com)

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”

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.

Something breaks, an injury occurs, you can’t do what you love to do, and all your hard training won’t matter. 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. Letting the kettle bell get out away from your body, off your midline, essentially pulling you forward even as much to feel your weight on your toes, then yanking it up out of the back swing, can cause considerable stress on the lower back.

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 Kettle bell swings up from the force of your leg drive, and your arm is relaxed and long.

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(Source: www.cavemantraining.com)

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. 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.

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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.

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. My go t’s include several T-spine mobility techniques like the partner push-pull from Gray Cook.

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.

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(Source: www.mizzfit.com)

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. 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. We use the arm bar as one of many prep exercises for a healthy, stable shoulder, and everyone gets what they need out of it.

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 I have tried a lot in the gym and I have yet to find a better tool for general strength and endurance which is as much fun as the kettle bell.

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(Source: www.mensfitness.com)

How well you are prepared for what is coming How much respect you pay to the situation and stay calm How well you listen to your gut when you get to a tight spot Whenever I did not prepare, did not respect the situation and failed to listen to my gut I got hurt.

In addition, if you are not a fan of thirty-something-year-old men dishing out life wisdom there are also some statistics from 2011 on back pain which will put your mind to rest: In addition, you have to distinguish between delayed onset muscle soreness (Does) and whether you really have something a bit more substantial than that.

So even if you were to get back pain from kettle bell swings, guess what, it is most likely to go away, unless you are blatantly stupid. Let us go through how you can avoid putting yourself in harm's way when doing kettle bell swings and it ain't that complex.

This is what you have to keep in mind when you start with the kettle bell swing and other complex movements which are being loaded. If you use a gun without knowing what you are doing you might shoot yourself in the foot or hurt the people close to you.

Technically you can drive, fortunately, because of lack of skill, you will be deselected in the process before you can hurt yourself entering professional racing. Even if you have progressed very far there still can be things which need to be fixed because of bad habits which have crept in overtime.

(Source: beingpeterpan.com)

Here are the most common areas for which people make mistakes and hurt themselves in the process on the kettle bell swing. A lack of shoulder mobility will make it hard for you to swing the kettle bell freely and with ease.

First, you have to analyze whether the mobility issues are caused by a muscle imbalance or shortened tendons. Depending on what the cause is you either strengthen other areas to balance the entire system out or stretch accordingly to get more range of motion.

Again you can either have imbalances in your hip in terms of strength or flexibility which cause you to perform sub par. What often happens is that experienced athletes or gym rats only use the back squat to progress in their strength.

Some variation every quarter to half a year can help to build a more balanced physique. Ankle mobility can be worked on with the stretches and movements I already mentioned for the hips.

To minimize mobility issues and maximize your output it helps to warm up slowly and stretch before you start your kettle bell routine. A1: Foam roll hip, T-spine extensionsB1: Partner mobility rolls with the Big Stick-upper traps, lats x50-70C1: T-spine mobility push/pulls and rib cage openers x 3-5 L/RD1: Wall Squats x 10|E1: Scorpion x 10F1: Goblet Squats (with 2 sec pause) x 10 x 1-3 setsG1: Arm Bar x 1-5 reps L/R, hold for 5-20 belly breathAlthough I would consider this more of a light workout in itself rather than just a warm-up.

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(Source: www.mizzfit.com)

When you teach yourself the kettle bell swing from videos on YouTube or others in the gym it is very likely that you learn it the wrong way. This is based on the reason that the program is run by Pavel Tsatsoulin, one man who probably has invested more time in the kettle bell than you have spent sleeping in your life.

The Hyper extension at the back is often seen as people do not swing from the hips in a hinge motion but do all kinds of other things to move the metal ball. You should stand ramrod straight when the kettle bell reaches the apex of the swing and not lean backward.

Leaning backward puts unnecessary pressure on the spine and can lead to injury long term. As you are not supposed to go to the extreme and look at the ceiling at the top you should also not look through your legs or get your ass down to the ground at the bottom of the swing.

Squatting the swing is a sign of poor technique or weakness as the tool becomes the master of the user. Keep it simple and stick to the Russian swing to focus on building ballistic power.

The American swing makes the next phenomenon a lot more likely to happen which is chasing the bell. This leads to more jerk movements, tension on your skeleton and muscles and finally, injury.

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(Source: www.mizzfit.com)

Lack of tension is a general problem among layman who does not look into the theory of things. You can pick up kettle bells without even paying attention to how to get your body as hard as a brick.

This topic is often not debated and deserves its own chapter as more fitness enthusiasts need to know this concept in detail. A crucial component of strength training is to acquire the skill of building tension in your body.

The best professional weightlifters and powerlifters have perfected the art of building tension to minimize power leaks and gain maximum performance. Glute bridges are an excellent tool to train how to flex your butt in a way that it supports lifting.

To achieve this practice the hike pass and locking your elbows in when you pick the kettle bell off the ground. Your trainer or gym buddy should be able to place a broomstick on your back and your spine should keep in line with it and not round.

This is achieved by locking the elbows in, pulling your shoulder blades towards each other and initiating the first swing. If you do not pay detailed attention to the opening swing, you usually find that the spine is all over the place during the set.

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(Source: www.mizzfit.com)

This ensures that the kettle bell is locked in while not pulling from the arms or upper back which is likely to happen if you apply too stiff a grip. Inevitably there will be back pain if you train hard and with the purpose to progress to get stronger and healthier.

When I hurt my back in 2016 on Gender 531 I immediately knew when I pulled the weight up that there was something bad going on. In the beginning, err on the side of caution and stop in time and get checked more often by a chiropractor, general practitioner or physician.

Ice packs are good to numb immediate pain and recover faster. Especially if you are very prone to experience pain because your skin and body makeup just seems to bruise easier than most people ice is a good go to.

Frozen vodka bottles also do the trick and usually end in disaster later in the evening. A tip from granny here: hot water bottles do the same thing as heating pads and are reusable.

You can also put them in funny costumes and look silly so that your wife/partner/husband loves you even more for being such a fool chastising yourself in the gym. In my Judo times, we used Voltaren a lot for all kinds of muscle aches all over the body.

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(Source: www.mizzfit.com)

If I have to apply any type of cream or take disdain/aspirin to relieve pain that stems from exercising my next hand movement is hitting the buttons on my smartphone to make an appointment. Read up about how to do it in the books I mentioned, get one or two sessions with a Strong first instructor near you in, be humble with your progression and your kettle bell swings will make your more healthy and not worse.

The classic kettlebellswing, the Russian swing, is a fundamental exercise that every guy should do. It’s an explosive and natural expression of hip extension, a key portion of your vertical leap and your sprinter’s stride, too.

You stand grasping a kettle bell with both hands, core tight, toes pointed ever-so-slightly outward, knees slightly bent. From there, you push your butt back slightly and hinge at the waist, letting momentum take the kettle bell behind your thighs.

Momentum carries the kettle bell upwards and in front of you, and your arms drive forward, typically until they’re parallel to the ground, in the process. In practice, the American swing frequently takes the emphasis off your mammies and glutes, and average gym-goers over-involve muscles that aren't meant for the job, such as the shoulders and lower back.

In general, you always want to choose exercises that minimize risk and maximize the benefits that’ll push you to your goals. You should evaluate all exercises this way (and not be afraid to question your group fitness trainer either -- it’s their job to answer you).

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American swing fans have two key arguments that fail to account for the way the general population actually moves. It’s a demonstration of true shoulder flexion at the top of each rep, that your mid- and upper- back muscles will fire.

In this way, it’s a total body exercise, and superior and more “complete” than the Russian kettlebellswing. So that means, by default, they’re destined to perform the American swing incorrectly (and I've seen “fit” folks wreck this move, too).

Targeting muscles is important, even if “all-workouts-should-be-total-body” nation doesn't understand that, because it's a key method of correcting weaknesses in both your mechanics and your physique. Quick test: Lie with your belly on the ground, arms and legs long in front of you.

Driving the shoulders into true overhead position isn’t as natural as you may think. When forced to hit a true arms-directly-overhead position, many people compensate with movement in other areas, often arching their upper or (worse!)

The basic swing lets you move a fairly heavy weight, since it relies on two of your body’s most powerful muscle groups, the legs and glutes, to generate the majority of the force. If those muscle groups can’t power the bell to the dumb American standard, the shoulders and lower back do the brunt of the extra work -- except they’re not meant to move the same load as the glutes and mammies.

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(Source: www.mizzfit.com)

So the shoulder muscles and smaller upper-body stabilizers take over that large load. The American swing crowd might contend that this isn’t all that different from a snatch anyway, hamstrings and glutes firing.

Thing is, both the barbell and single-arm snatch versions let you drive weights overhead while rotating and spreading your shoulders more freely to create joint space for your rotator cuff tendons. That can’t happen when both hands are grasping a kettle bell handle with a close grip.

They rely on high rep loads, and, eventually, fatigue piles on. Station-to-station randomness makes things worse: if the American swing ’s your first move, your mind and your shoulder blades aren’t fatigued.

You could go “lighter” on the weight with the American swing, both in a class setting and in your own workouts, focusing on form. Except then, your hamstrings and glutes, the targets of the classic swing, simply don’t get to move as much weight.

Unless you compete in CrossFit (where the American swing sometimes shows up in competition), the wildest part about the stupidity of the American kettlebellswing is that there’s a much simpler way to achieve the super-aggressive hip extension and explosive glute contraction that it is supposed to bring. There’s a smarter, less injury-inducing way to push your glutes and hamstrings to “pop” more than they do on your average Russian swing.

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Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., is the fitness director of Men's Health and a certified trainer with more than 10 years of training experience. This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses.

What I want to point out in this blog is why I’ve also found it has helped so many of my clients who once suffered with lower back pain. Czech Republic’s Dr Vladimir Wanda is renowned for drawing our attention to the rise in “gluteal amnesia”.

This common problem is a typical side effect of too much sitting and basically means that the backside muscles have got so used to not working that they have permanently fallen asleep. To quickly get an understanding of how the gluteal muscles help your core, try leaning backwards from a standing position.

However, leading sports therapist to the Navy SEALs and NFL teams, Gray Cook comments: Exercise physiologist Bret Contreras’ has also found that the KettlebellSwing far exceeds the glute activation of a squat.

This is perfect to open the muscles at the front of the hips, helping posture and taking the strain off the lower back. Prof. Stuart McGill has found that learning to brace the core is more effective for spinal health and longevity than the classic “hollowing” or pulling navel to spine.

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The kettle bell : one of my personal favorite workout tools, and one that I feel is underutilized by many. Kettle bells provide for a larger range of mobility than barbells or even dumbbells, helping to maximize the pump and working on different types of muscles or focusing on one in particular.

Besides looking great, strong back muscles can help to improve your posture and align your spine. Bad posture has become quite the epidemic lately due to the large amount of desk jobs and smartphone use that is rampant in our society.

There are numerous benefits to correct posture, including deeper breathing, reduced strain on bones and joints, and more energy. So, now it’s time to bust out your favorite kettle bell and let’s get to work on buffing those back and shoulder muscles!

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, hold your kettle bell by the handle with an overhand grip. Squat and sit back with your hips, load the heels and keep your shins vertical.

Watch the video below by kettle bell expert Greg Brookes in addition to reading the instructions for best effect! Stand with feet hip-width apart, and hold your kettle bell using both hands in front of your chest, arms straight outwards.

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(Source: www.mizzfit.com)

Sit into the stance, pushing your butt outwards and moving your chest forwards. Correcting this will place more emphasis on your shoulder muscles and also your core will have to work overtime to counteract this rotation.

A properly performed kettlebellswing will work your entire body, promoting stronger shoulders and back as well as a strong core and more flexible hips. Bend slightly at the knees but concentrate your movement on hinging your hips, then grasp the kettle bell.

Performing a good clean can be somewhat complicated, as there are a lot of moving parts to the exercise. Step out with one leg landing wider than shoulder width apart, squatting at the same time.

Adding a kettle bell means more muscles have to work to stabilize the weight, making it an even more effective exercise. Start in plank position, while keeping your right hand on a sturdy object that won’t easily move, like a bench or chair.

Interested in the best kettle bell and battle rope workouts on the web, with hundreds of video lessons taught by certified instructors? Head over to the Living. Fit workouts page, where you will find some of the best kettle bell and battle rope exercises, all with complete breakdown videos and community support every step of the way.

Since we started, we’ve grown into a trusted resource for unbiased, science-based articles and reviews on fitness, nutrition and supplements. Check me out on social media, feel free to add me if you want to talk health!

Hello Pavel, I first found out about you and Strong first from Tim Ferris's and have been a big fan ever since. I've listened to many of your interviews and incorporated much of what you and Tim have recommended into my weekly workouts, specifically the kettlebellswing.

But just recently, Tim interviewed Charles Poliquin, and he highly recommended NOT doing kettle bell swings saying it was bad for the back. The most striking flaws coming to my mind is not to brace on the top (hyper extension), not to pull the shoulder blades back, not letting the bell coming back to your braced body (hinging far to early), to let the body twist in one hand swings, too much squatting.

Studies need to be looked at individually as most would have to be conducted on inexperienced practitioners to get a decent sample size, plus the time frame parameters of an average study would also most likely not allow for one to meet an SF swing standard if not already familiar with it, again the study would need to be presented to be discussed rather than just referenced. As for the argument that “weightlifting must go vertical against gravity” (paraphrasing his original statement) the force plate studies conducted on KB ballistics show a very high output of force in this plane, after all the subjects were standing on a force plate. Just because the bell is moving more away from the center of mass does not change the force vector, it remains vertical.

Given the scientific evidence presented by very credible researchers in this community, not to mention the vast amount of combined years of experience ALL producing similar results and conclusions I wouldn't give validity to his brief statements without analyzing the studies he's using to form his opinion. Over 14 years of my kettle bell certifications we have received countless reports of improved back health and performance. “

Kettle bell Simple & Sinister” has been endorsed by #1 spine biomechanic in the world Prof. Stuart McGill and leading PT expert Gray Cook. Among SFG instructors you will find chiropractors, MDs, and PTs who not only coach the swing for performance but use it in rehabilitation.

Cyrus, you wrote, “I’m hoping there is a 'right' way of doing the kettlebellswing ...” If you are doing kettle bell swings as we teach them here at Strongest, and you are reaping the benefits, and you're not getting injured, carry on with what you're doing!

Sources
1 kettlebellsworkouts.com - https://kettlebellsworkouts.com/kettlebell-swing-mistakes-back-pain/
2 www.onnit.com - https://www.onnit.com/academy/why-the-kettlebell-swing-is-the-solution-for-low-back-pain/
3 www.onnit.com - https://www.onnit.com/academy/3-reasons-kettlebell-back-pain/
4 www.marathon-crossfit.com - http://www.marathon-crossfit.com/blog/can-kettlebell-swings-hurt-my-back-article
5 www.menshealth.com - https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/a27434900/american-kettlebell-swing-bad/
6 www.nourishingmoves.com - https://www.nourishingmoves.com/nourishing-moves/2018/5/13/why-the-kettlebell-swing-is-good-for-you-back
7 ultimatecorehealth.com - https://ultimatecorehealth.com/kettlebell-workout-for-back/
8 www.strongfirst.com - https://www.strongfirst.com/community/threads/charles-poliquin-said-kettlebell-swings-are-bad.5519/