Kettlebell For Shoulder Rehab

James Smith
• Monday, 14 December, 2020
• 8 min read

The kettle bell is a fantastic training tool for athletes and the general population to build strength, stability, coordination, conditioning, and sports performance. Most importantly, be sure to reposition the kettle bell and your base points as needed to make it a safe movement and a stable environment.

shoulder kettlebell rehab exercise sports beach therapy huntington
(Source: www.youtube.com)


There is a litany of benefits to this movement that allows for rehab practitioners and strength coaches to program this exercise for their clients and athletes. The positioning of the load moves the center of gravity forward, which allows the individual to more easily sit back in the squat.

The goblet squat is also a less intimidating way to build strength throughout the body in those that would be nervous loading with a barbell. So, this allows the clinician to easily individualize the range of motion requirements to help train the movement pattern through each patient’s available mobility.

And we can add in a bottoms-up kettle bell to further challenge this technique results in a killer rehab move. Perform supine, in standing with the arms overhead, with eyes closed, or as shown below.

First, the entire shoulder girdle must remain active to control and stabilize the weight. There are plenty of regressions and progressions to this exercise to challenge more posture, proprioception, and strength.

This is a great body weight movement for desk jockeys to combat their everyday poor posture. In addition, the Single Arm KB Press is great to confront anti-rotation and anterior chain activation.

bar kettlebell arm shoulder exercise rehab crooked
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So, this exercise is a great bang for its buck to teach some clients and athletes full body irradiation. The Biggest Benefit from the ½ Kneeling Position with KB Halos is that it requires reflexive or reactive stability throughout the entire body.

So after doing some research on the “Turducken Get Up,” I think I owe the respect to Dean Somerset for coining the term. In essence, I am a Sports Performance Chiropractor, a Certified Athletic Trainer, and a Fellow of the International Academy of Medical Acupuncture.

Each encounter or training session allows me to positively impact my client, and for that, I am excited to be able to share my passion with others. Kettle bell exercises in general also don’t require a lot of space or other resources so you can do them nearly anywhere.

Even having just a couple tucked away enables me to get a full body workout but more importantly, I can also use KB's to focus on my shoulder resiliency and rehab. As I said before the rotator cuff muscles need to fire hard to stabilize the shoulder joint and because of the same forces the muscles that stabilize the scapula (shoulder blade) also forcefully contract.

Keep the scapular muscles tight by trying to pull the shoulder back during the whole movement. This is, after all, a full body exercise but as with all KB swings, it should be a hip driven movement.

(Source: www.kimeperformance.com)

I prefer to keep the single arm swing at shoulder height, aka Russian style. Start light until you feel confident with the pattern then add weight as your strength and skill allow.

These are a great starting point for someone with impingement or other issues where overhead motion may need to be restricted. Since each hand holds a kettle bell each shoulder needs to work on its own to pull back or retract.

This independence of movement means that each side is responsible for itself which can help to correct imbalances in strength. Just like the swing this exercise ties the hips, core, and shoulders together into a functional movement.

This is one of the best kettle bell exercises to develop scapular stability while rotating at the T-spine, a motion that is lacking in so many athletes. Think about it like this- the kettle bell places an offset load on the arm (weight outside the wrist).

Keep your eyes on the kettle bell at all times For an extra challenge try a lower weight with the bottom up position Remember to breathe into your belly If you struggle with this and suspect your T-spine is an issue you should try our FREE T-spine mobility email course. Two prominent movement and strength professionals Gray Cook and Dan John once said in a lecture that “if we were doing more loaded carries than lifts then we wouldn’t be doing as many movement correctives.” A strong statement to be sure but from personal experience, this is very true.

kettlebell suitcase carry
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The bottom-up carry requires you to grip the handle of the kettle bell very hard, thereby forcing other muscles to contract. Most importantly the rotator cuff and muscles that stabilize your shoulder blade.

The real value of this exercise doesn’t come from the activation of the shoulder muscles though, that’s just a bonus. This is especially true with standing presses as the shoulders need a stable base to push from.

I chose these exercises because they challenge the stability of both the shoulder and midline AND connect the movement of both together. Once the shoulder stability has been mastered then the larger prime mover muscles can be challenged.

Failure to develop the shoulders in this order will continuously lead to shoulder / rotator cuff issues as the large prime mover muscles overpower the smaller stabilizing muscles. OK, with that said let’s list out 10 of the best kettle bell exercises for the shoulders starting with the ones directed at stabilization.

Half Kneeling Position (as shown above, back knee is on the floor) Standing Position (keep abs and glutes tight) Walking (take a walk with the kettle bell held overhead) Overhead Kneeling to Standing (see video below) The kettle bell is held overhead as before with a straight arm and wrist and then you reach down towards the floor with the opposite hand.

shoulder mobility kettlebell athletes rehab athlete sport workout breakingmuscle exercises
(Source: www.pinterest.com)

The ultimate goals is to reach the opposite ankle with the hand while keeping both legs straight. However, for the beginner achieving this full position can be very challenging both on the shoulder and the flexibility through the back and hamstrings.

Shoulder workout: Your goal is 5 beautifully controlled windmills on each side. The get up conditions the whole body from top to toe working hard into the core muscles and also challenges the stability of the shoulder.

The kettle bell is held with a straight arm and wrist as the participant stands up from a lying down position and then returns down to the floor. During the complete movement of the Turkish get up the shoulder is forced to stabilize the joint through various angles.

Shoulder workout: The ultimate goal is to perform 3 full Turkish Get Ups on each side without bending the arm. Once you can happily complete the exercises above then your shoulder stabilizing muscles will be able to handle any overhead pressing safely.

Shoulder workout: The goal here is to perform 8 – 12 repetitions on each side for a total of 3 sets. The kettle bell squat and press is a full body exercise that not only works the shoulders but heavily challenges the legs, buttocks, hamstrings, abs, back stabilizers and cardio.

shoulder rotations bar kettlebell rehab
(Source: www.youtube.com)

You will also find the shoulders fatigue just holding and maintaining the kettle bell throughout the exercise. Our next kettle bell exercise challenges the shoulders as well as the core muscles and the flexibility of the hips and hamstrings.

The exercise starts from the floor with the kettle bell held by the body with the thumbs around the handle. The legs are kept as straight as possible as the participant sits up and pushes the kettle bell with two hands overhead.

The chest should be kept nice and high at the top position and the kettle bell pushed up and back. The second half of the exercise involve lowing the kettle bell and upper body back down to the floor as slowly as possible using the core muscles to resist the movement.

The kettle bell sit and press is an excellent strict shoulder exercise because the participant cannot use the legs or hips to help with the movement. A great exercise for beginners because two hands are used on the kettle bell making the lift much easier.

Next onto a huge full body exercise that strongly develops the shoulders too. Kettlebellshoulder workout : Sets of 10 – 12 repetitions of the kettle bell clean and press on each side is a great goal to begin with.

(Source: www.youtube.com)

However, it does put huge demands on the shoulder stabilizers and should they not be conditioned as shown above injury is very possible. As with the push press the kettle bell should be lowered down slowly under control with the latissimus Doris muscles, under the armpit, tightly activated.

A kettlebellshoulder workout : Strict overhead kettle bell presses can be performed in a ladder formation : I also like the half kneeling press because it highlights asymmetries between each side of the body.

In other words, if you are weak on your right hip and left shoulder (core sling across the body) then you will quickly find this out. It is very important during this kettle bell exercises that you maintain a nice tall position with the glute squeezed tight and abs activated.

In order to preform repetitions of this exercise the participant needs to have excellent pressing ability and good alignment throughout the body. When performing this demanding exercise the participant needs to be careful that the kettle bell doesn’t flop over and hit them in the face.

Due to the huge instability of the shoulder joint, overhead exercises should not be rushed or advanced too quickly. Start with the holding exercises as shown above and then slowly progress onto the more dynamic and challenging ones as your shoulder stability muscles strengthen.

(Source: www.youtube.com)

Yes, you can improve your mobility and stability using kettle bell exercises including the windmill, Turkish get up and overhead press. Using a kettle bell the right way is beneficial for the health of the shoulder and can promote good stabilization.

Full body dynamic exercises are the best for fat loss including the kettle bell swing, goblet squat, clean & press and the thruster.

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