Based on the fact you are reading this you are not a couch junkie and a Doctor telling you that would be devastating. Listen to your Doctor; he didn't spend 6 years in Evil Medical School to be called Mister thank-you-very-much!
But don't listen to just one, not all Doctors are trained and experienced in working with back injuries. During that time I had constant back pain, sometimes a minor irritation (couldn't bend and tie shoes without pain) and on at least 5 occasions I would get a shock down my back and spine that put me on the floor unable to get up!
And if you've ever experienced the pain that goes from the low back, through the hip, down the leg and into the toes, I don't have to tell you that it sucked. In your older years the discs harden and flatten and are no longer liquid or gel-filled.
It is during these middle years of your life (20s to 60s generally) you must worry about disc herniation. The reason we keep a straight or arched back during swings, dead lifts and well, everything else is because when the spine flexes forward, 'rounds', it puts a lot of pressure on the discs as seen in the image at right.
Often times the gel will press against the sciatic nerve and cause a measure of pain that may stay local or it may travel down the leg, into the foot and toes. If you are standing on your left leg and your right foot is on the chair, slowly raise your right knee as high as you can towards your chest.
Keep a tight arch in your lower back and your chest pushed out military style. If you do have a disc problem and are not following this for prevention then you will want to do the swings instead of dead lifts.
Weak abs and lower back muscles: Once again our friend the Swing comes into play. It will help with strength and endurance of the entire core including lower back, abs and hamstrings.
Flex (brace) your stomach as if someone were about to punch you; as comrade Pavel would say, “that can be arranged!” Don't suck in your stomach as this will make you weak and put your back at risk.
Poor lifting habits: 20 Squat Thrusts should cure that comrade! Seriously if you aren't sure about your technique seek a qualified coach, if you train with kettle bells that means an ROC.
Poor posture and slouching after a workout: The McKenzie Back Bend from Pavel's book Beyond Bodybuilding. While standing up straight, place your hands in the small of your back with your fingers pointing towards your tailbone.
Prescription IF You Have a HerniatedDisc If you are lucky enough to currently have a herniated disc and feel pain then in addition to the judicious application of the above drills you should also avoid any exercises that cause spine flexion or an excessive compression on the spine. Avoid sit-ups, yes this includes the Wanda sit-up, a great drill but not while your disc (s) are torn.
Windmills and overhead squats are great drills for a healthy posture but if not done with perfect form and too much weight can pose a risk to the herniation. Now is your chance to train like drills of movements, and not ones that cause spine flexion or compression.
Well, I ain't Miss Cleo so that is up to you doing what is smart for your injury and your body's ability to recover. My injury was severe and once I figured out how to do the right things it took me 6-8 months to be fully recovered.
One of my clients worked in a warehouse just like I used to and had to lift heavy boxes all day. He had 2 herniation in his lumbar region and due to pain was at risk of loosing his job.
I showed him how to lift properly to minimize compression on the discs and gave him a few exercises to follow. During my recovery as well as many of my clients I have found that a Chiropractor and Massage Therapist in conjunction with the exercises above gave the best results.
The Chiropractor will put the vertebra back in alignment and the Massage Therapist will work the tension out of any muscles that will be tensed to 'protect' the injury, your body's natural response is to tense up surrounding muscles of an injury. Always get approval from a Doctor and Chiropractor before beginning any exercises with a bad back.
Brian Copeland is a Denver, Colorado based strength and conditioning coach, personal trainer and Certified Russian Kettle bell Instructor. Brian specializes in functional strength and athletic training, conditioning for martial artists, kettle bell lifting, fat loss and muscle gain.
Brian is available for private and group lessons and personal program design. If you are tired of not seeing results contact Brian, he will design a personalized program based on YOUR goals, YOUR time and YOUR lifestyle.
Being free from injury is one of the biggest benefits I’ve personally experienced with the kettle bell swing through the years. You already know that the swing is a high-power, full-body explosive movement that doesn’t stress the back, when it’s executed properly.
As a real-world example, world powerlifting champion, Brad Dillingham has directly attributed the kettle bell swing as a key factor in his return to competition after several failed rehabilitation attempts. The rapidly progressive radiating pain in my left leg was so severe, there was no position I could find that would alleviate it.
In other words, I literally couldn’t straighten my spine because it made the excruciating and constant pain even worse. My experience ultimately led to me becoming a physical therapist, working with many back pain patients through the years, and helping a lot of people.
The experiences provided a total appreciation and unique perspective on the importance of optimizing back health. First, we need to remember that no single study answers all the questions and it cannot be used to make broad conclusions.
We must view each study as a piece of the puzzle in the entire body of evidence in a particular area. With this understanding, there were some key findings in the landmark study by Dr. Stuart McGill that looked at the biomechanics and muscle activation of the one-handed kettle bell swing.
A key question the study looked to answer was if the kettle bell swing had a unique loading benefit that may be perceived as therapeutic for some (ex. Let’s be clear, technique has a lot to do with how a person would expect to feel during and after performing the kettle bell swing, I think we all agree on that.
Time is a brief muscular pulse at the top in an attempt to elicit a rapid muscle contraction-relaxation. Rectus Abdominal External Obliques Internal Obliques Latissimus Doris Erector Spinal Gluteus Medium Gluteus Maximus Rectus Memoirs Biceps Memoirs
The term “gluteal amnesia” is commonly used in the fitness community to describe the lack of firing in the glutes for many key exercises. So, I tried to activate my glutes as best I could, in between, but it just they never stayed activated.” These were actual comments following his withdrawal from the tournament.
The study demonstrated significant results in regard to glute activation with the most impressive numbers produced by Pavel’s one-hand swing. If we have the same two vertebrae, visualize the one on top being forced forward relative to the one on the bottom.
Understanding how these two forces impact the spine are significant considerations for the kettle bell swing, according to the data by Dr. McGill. If you compare this to a dead lift, for example, you’d expect more compressive force due to the downward pressure of the load and maintaining a vertical path of the bar.
If there is true instability of one or more vertebral segments, then according to the McGill data, it would make sense that those exposed to posterior shear loads could potentially have intolerance with kettle bell swing. An important point to remember here is that these types of cases are quite uncommon, but they do exist.
The study concludes that the majority of people should greatly benefit from the effectiveness of the kettle bell swing to strengthen the posterior chain, but there may be isolated cases who may experience shear load intolerance and may not be ideal candidates. Fat loss, explosive strength, a high level of conditioning, posterior chain development, and forging athleticism are all proven benefits of the kettle bell swing.
When it comes to back health, the swing can be considered a foundational exercise for the majority of people because of the unique features discussed here. The swing greatly contributes to high levels of muscular activation in the posterior chain, as well as abdominal.
The hip hinging mechanics, neutral spine, and powerful strength and conditioning benefits make it one of the most innovative movements we have to optimize and restore back health. Adding one-hand kettle bell swings to your Simple & Sinister training can be daunting for some people.
Of the great unsettled debates to plague humanity over the ages, whether a perfect kettle bell swing form... Scott Marcella, MPT, CSS, SFG II, NFL, ISSN, Saw, CA CWC.
With over thirty years of unique experiences, he currently coaches kettle bell and Weightlifting techniques to small groups in South Florida. If you are already an experienced kettle bell user, this is likely already evident, but if you are a patient with back pain, read on and open your mind to some extraordinary possibilities.
A personal history of back pain resulted in my professional transformation from a general interest in the brain and spine, to a holistic focus on the cause, treatment, and philosophy of back pain. I spent the first 20 years of my career cultivating techniques to pinpoint, and then surgically treat the often-elusive anatomical generator responsible for back pain.
However, personal and professional experience led me to shift my focus towards enabling patients suffering with back pain to help themselves—independently—without their surgeon, therapist, chiropractor, medications, etc. However, most of my patients are not innocent teenagers and tend to regard their back pain with anxiety.
After obtaining an MRI, I discovered that I not only had a herniated disc, but also had a chronic stress fracture with a laxity between my L5 and S1 bones. I ultimately managed to overcome my fears and embrace back strengthening again—but this time, with kettle bells.
These patients learned how their posture and form could change with kettle bell training. EXERCISE AND PAIN RELIEF: USING STRESS TO CREATE STRENGTH Back pain can be successfully treated by harnessing the synergy between the brain and the body—or in this case the brain and back—and by harnessing the equally extraordinary capacity of the body (and back) to adapt and change when properly stressed.
The term, borrowed from Passim Tale’s book Anti fragile, refers to entities which are not eroded or weakened by stress, but instead become stronger. Our capacity to change as a result of stress is called phenotypic plasticity.
Recent research has shown that much of what was once thought to be meaningless DNA in our genome is likely dedicated to individual cells’ capacity to adapt to environmental stressors. When stress is applied to an organism—a cell, an organ, or the entire individual—the adaptation is cumulative and interdependent.
The organism’s design changes to match the functional demand created by the stress. This biological matching of functional demand to structural design is called symmorphosis.
An alternative approach to the same heart event would be to make the coronary arteries bigger. How many of you would look to fundamentally change your heart by gradually training for and competing in marathons?
In other words, how many of you would use the body’s capacity to change itself (symmorphosis) as the primary treatment of a disease? Focusing on causing the cells, organs, and body to adapt to a stressor is quite different from the “quick fix” most of my patients crave or have come to expect.
Back strengthening in this setting can also result in less pain by diminishing the motion between the spinal bones. Thus, the back can be held stiff while bending or getting up from a chair, preventing the sensation of pain.
However, we healthcare providers are currently doing a poor job of treating back pain. When I send patients to physical therapy, therapists often suggest that my measures are Draconian.
The therapists provide the more “sensible” advice: “let pain be your guide” in what exercises to perform. If the client subsequently becomes a patient of a therapist or doctor, one can only imagine the ensuing conversation… “He did WHAT to you?”
Kettle bell instructors are indispensable in this paradigm, as proper form, technique, variety, and safety are essential to success. The key to treating the patient with back pain is to find the “sweet spot”.
Proper supervision by kettle bell instructors maximizes the potential for healing. One of my favorite quotes is by Michelangelo, “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short: but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark”.
This is a perfect conceptual guideline for exercising with kettle bells as a treatment for back pain.