If you’ve ever suffered from neck or back pain, you know how miserable it is.
Back in 2007, I had the worst back pain I had ever had, and it lasted for almost 2 months! Getting out of bed was excruciating, I couldn’t pick up anything off of the floor, I had to sit with a heat pad everywhere I went, and walking for any amount of time was impossible.
I finally was able to get into physical therapy which helped tremendously. I vowed to to whatever I needed to do to keep that pain from coming back again. To this day, I work diligently on my core to keep it as strong and injury free as possible.
Aside from doing the typical core stability work such as planks, bridges, and ab work, I’ve also discovered kettlebell swings to be very efficient at building a strong core.
In fact, there was a study done in Denmark that took 40 pharmaceutical workers who were suffering with neck and back pain, and divided them into 2 groups. The first group was to complete kettlebell swing training 2 to 3 times a week for 20 minutes, while the other group was instructed to exercise without the use of kettlebells for the same frequency and duration as the KB group. This continued for 8 weeks.
At the end of the 8 weeks, they found that the group who worked out by doing KB swings had not only increased strength through their spines and posterior chains (butt, hamstrings, low back), they had significantly reduced their neck & shoulder pain by 47% and low back pain by 57%. That’s a big improvement!
The study contributes the decrease in pain not only due to the strengthening of the muscles, but also due to the increased blood flow caused by the dynamic muscular contractions while performing the swings. The article states that the increase of oxygen demand of KB swings coupled with the increased intake of oxygen, helps rid the body of metabolic by products that can cause pain.
Pretty impressive results.
Of course form is key key key! You can actually hurt yourself if you attempt to do a swing with poor form.
The swing is a hinge move, NOT a squat! This by far is the number one mistake I see people make when they first start swinging kettlebells. I’m pretty sure I was guilty of doing this in the beginning too.
What you want to do instead is start the swing with your hips going back into space vs. bending the knees as you would to sit in a chair.
In addition, it’s important to snap the hips forward, squeezing the glutes, thighs & abs as you launch the bell with the dynamic movement coming from the hips. You don’t want to try and”lift” the bell with the arms during the front swing, nor do you want to use your back to swing the bell. I found a great video by Neghar Fanooni, in which she demos and instructs how to perform proper swing techniques.
You can get alot of bang for your buck with kettlebell swings.
I have had so much success with using them with myself and many of my clients. Not only do they help with injury recovery/prevention; they can provide amazing cardiovascular and strength benefits without impact on the joints.
My very first client, who is now 78 years YOUNG, has been with me for the past 7 years is in the best shape of his life by training with kettlebells. He came to me with such bad arthritis throughout his back and knees, he couldn’t even step up onto a 4″ step or bend over to pick things up off of the floor, without excruciating pain. He was on several pain meds to control the back and knee pain. I started him with kettlebell training as his primary source of exercise.
Flash forward to today, he’s lost 68#, trains 6 days a week, travels the world by going on cruises, (he even calls the cruise lines to make sure they have KB’s on the ship…LOL), and walks up to 6 miles a day for fun. His arthritis has responded so well to KB training…he no longer takes any medication for pain. He now climbs 5 flights of stairs as his “warm up” before he trains with me. And this guy literally could not step up on a 4″ step. What a difference!
I hope to be like him when I’m that age!
If you’ve been on the fence about kettlebell training, you may want to give it a go. Just be sure you are using proper form, and when in doubt, consult a trainer who is well versed in KB training.
You might just discover that working out with kettlebells could keep your neck, back and the rest of your body strong and injury free!