Functional Kettlebell Training for the Spine

Peer Reviewed

Exercise is important when you have back pain, and resistance training is especially helpful.  It is essential to strengthen the body and increase anaerobic fitness. Resistance training can be performed in several forms including bodyweight exercises, barbells, dumbbells, cables, machines, resistance bands, and kettlebells.

A kettlebell is a round, cast iron weight with a single handle. Visualize a cannonball with a u-shaped handle. Kettlebells are manufactured in a wide range of weights for everyone from beginners to competitive strength athletes.

How Will a Kettlebell Help Strengthen the Spine?
Functional kettlebell training increases aerobic and anaerobic fitness by developing the cardiovascular and muscloskeletal systems.

Kettlebell training supplies a full body workout by strengthening, toning, and moving the body bilaterally (on both sides). It demands all the major muscle groups work in unison. Kettlebell exercises strengthen the entire body, especially the spinal muscles.

Kettlebell Exercise Benefits
The shape of the kettlebell makes it a versatile strength building tool and allows for a wide variety of exercises. Fundamental kettlebell exercises include swings, anchor squats, cleans, high pulls and push presses.

All functional kettlebell exercises are combination exercises, meaning they force several major muscle groups to function synergistically (work together).

Every single kettlebell exercise involves the spinal muscles and the core muscles.

The spinal muscles and the core muscles are either the primary muscles involved in the lift or assisting muscles in the lift. Also, in all kettlebell exercises, the spinal and core muscles work to stabilize the body.

Because of this combination (always being involved in the movement, in addition to always stabilizing the body), kettlebell exercises train the spinal muscles to build power and stability in the spine, pelvis, hips and abdominal muscles.

Kettlebell Exercises
Kettlebell training is executed with large functional movements, high repetitions, perfect technique, momentum, and short rest periods between sets.

The large functional movements ensure the entire body works in synergy. These types of movements simultaneously strengthen multiple muscles groups including the smaller supporting structures which are often inhibited by the stronger muscles. This is different from many other types of strengthening exercises that isolate specific muscles; kettlebell training relies on full body movements to lift the weight.

For maximum benefit and injury prevention, it is extremely important to execute all kettlebell exercises with perfect technique. This point cannot be stressed enough.

Work with a knowledgeable kettlebell instructor to learn proper technique for all exercises. Have the trainer demonstrate, teach, and supervise you during all phases of your training. Perfect your technique before increasing intensity and weight.

Functional kettlebells training is a valuable tool in the advanced phases of injury rehabilitation and in injury prevention, but it is not for everyone. If any kettlebell exercise elicits symptoms or doesn’t quite feel right, then forego that exercises and proceed to another.

If you enjoy kettlebell training and it feels right for you, then learn the exercises and perform them correctly and consistently to strengthen your spinal muscles and increase your health, fitness, and functionality.

Updated on: 07/19/16
Mitchell F. Miglis, DC
This article was reviewed by Mitchell F. Miglis, DC.