Why Do Kettlebell Swings Hurt My Back

Daniel Brown
• Saturday, 17 October, 2020
• 8 min read

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.

kettlebell hurt gone
(Source: www.girlsgonestrong.com)


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.

lower kettlebell swings hurt
(Source: mojostrength.com.au)

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 swings girlsgonestrong injury
(Source: www.pinterest.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).

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.

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.

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

Lower- back discomfort is a common complaint among novice kettle bell enthusiasts, says Experience Life fitness editor Maggie Hazel Far, ROC. A proper plank does not feature hunched shoulders, arched back, or flared ribs.

To practice this, stand a couple of inches from a wall and attempt to tap your butt back against it. Keep going until you get a good sense of how it feels to push your hips back versus simply bending forward at the waist.

Your hands do not pull the weight up to chest height; they guide the direction of the kettle bell as your hips propel it. If these tips don’t relieve your discomfort, ask a professional coach for personalized feedback.

If you experience pain while swinging, stop immediately and talk to your healthcare provider; the problem may be more serious than poor kettle bell form. This originally appeared as “I love swinging kettle bells, but my back often hurts afterward.

While I don’t have the benefit of watching each of you train, if you're feeling back pain when you dokettlebellswings, I can make some educated guesses based on common mistakes I see over and over. Kettle bell training has been steadily increasing in popularity since 2001, when Dragon Door Publications and Pavel Tsatsouline developed the first instructor certification program in the USA, the ROC (Russian Kettle bell Challenge).

(Source: www.youtube.com)

Many coaches, personal trainers, and commercial gyms have started offering private and group kettle bell training. The design of the kettle bell, with the center of mass extended beyond the hand, facilitates ballistic and swinging movements.

Done correctly, the exercises integrate the full body and breath to stabilize and produce power. Kettlebells can even be a very useful rehabilitation tool for treating hip, knee, and back pain patients.

It is vital to receive proper instruction and coaching in the swing prior to adding it to your workouts. Unfortunately, many people see the swing in a video or watch someone else performing it at the gym, and decide that it doesn’t look that hard.

The most common mistake I see when clients perform the swing is that they don’t have the hip hinge fully integrated into their motor planning. This causes irritation in the low back, and when performed incorrectly over and over, can lead to pain.

They don't finish the last bit of hip extension at the top of the dead lift, and compensate by hyper extending the low back, they may get pain. In order to get the bell overhead, most people hyper extend their lumbar spine and stick their head forward, which leads to neck and back pain.

kettlebell results athlete lifting shirtless killer performance gets swings kettlebells gym standing crossfit marathon
(Source: www.marathon-crossfit.com)

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.

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.

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

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. You may experience lower and middle back pain after your kettlebellswings 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.

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.

The kettle bell swing is a highly beneficial exercise but it is very unforgiving and easy to get your technique wrong at first. If you are recovering from a kettlebellback injury then wait until your back is fully healed before attempting the kettle bell swing again.

kettlebell swings girlsgonestrong
(Source: www.pinterest.com)

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

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