Kettlebells For Back Pain
A kettlebell is a weight made of cast-iron and shaped (as its name would suggest) not unlike an old-fashioned, looped-handle teakettle. For centuries they’ve been used by professional athletes as well as armies (particularly in Russia), but they didn’t start making their way into the gyms in the United States until the late nineties. Since then, they’ve been discovered by many exercise aficionados to be a great way to get a fast and efficient workout for the whole body. Kettlebell workouts differ from standard weight training in that standard weight training is based on lifting movements, whereas using a kettleball involves both lifting and swinging motions, and that is often very tricky and awkward for beginners.
Weight Training May Be The Answer
People who suffer from backaches and similar kinds of pain have historically tended to avoid weight training due to the risk of further injury, but a 2009 study published in the peer-reviewed journal Manual Therapy shows that done properly, weight training can not only prevent reinjury, it can even rude the pain. Though that study and others have worked with the more classic kind of lifting-based weight training, a team from the National Research Centre for the Working Environment in Copenhagen, Denmark recently set out to investigate how effective kettlebell exercises were in improving both cardiovascular and musculoskeletal heath, and specifically whether kettlebell use is beneficial to those suffering from back pain. The results were published in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health.
The research team brought in forty pharmaceutical employees, primarily females with neck, shoulder, and back pain, and assigned each of them by random to either a group which worked out with kettlebells, or to a control that told to simply exercise in the more unusual manner. The group that worked out with the kettlebells did so two to three times per week for eight weeks in twenty-minute sessions.
At the end of the eight weeks, they reported not only an improvement in their core and trunk muscles, but also less of the back pain. The researchers found that training with the kettlebells lowered shoulder and neck pain by about forty-seven percent, and back pain dropped by about fifty-seven percent. The control group, meanwhile, did not experience any significant reduction in pain. Kettlebell use did not show any indications of increasing aerobic fitness, however.
The authors of the study pointed out that workers who tend to be sedentary and sit at desk, are especially vulnerable to such kinds of pain because they often develop weak spots and tightness through the posterior muscle chain, a region which also contains the muscles which extend from the lower back to the cavles, hamstrings and glutes. But that chain of posterior muscles are strengthened by exercising with a kettlebell, and the pain may also be lessened due to an increased flow of blood to the leg and back muscles and a reduction in lactic acid buildup.
They do note that the difficulty of controlling kettlebells means it’s very important to learn the correct form and use from a certified kettlebell instructor.