Science

Kettlebell Swings’ Influence on Core Strength and Back Health

Even though kettlebells are somewhat new to the fitness world, and not everyone welcomes new fads, they may have their place in a bodybuilder’s or athlete’s exercise routine. Research from Canada shows that there’s a potential benefit to an exercise called a kettlebell swing, and it’s actually a great core exercise, believe it or not.

The reason this exercise is great is that it is a whole-body exercise and helps increase core strength. It requires control of the fast-moving weight by upper body muscles, as well as usage of the legs and hips. The swing component of it is initiated by moving the hips and knees, similar to the bottom portion of a squat, or a hip-hinge motion, as it’s known to some. This motion creates an inner abdominal brace, by contraction of the abs and the muscles of the spine, which then helps strengthen the supporting muscles of the spine. With a strong core, the spine is more stable. And with a more stable spine, an individual can decrease the risk of injury to the back.

However, as with any exercise, improper form increases the risk of injury dramatically, especially in the lower back. Before you attempt this exercise, practice the form with a lighter kettlebell to get into the groove of it.

Some helpful tips for the kettlebell swing: To start the swinging motion, imagine you’re coming out from the bottom of a deep squat as you swing the kettlebell up; push your weight into your heels, thrust your hips forward and squeeze your glutes together. As you do this, swing the kettlebell up with your arms. And when the kettlebell is at the top, ensure you have a strong core (tighten your abs), which will help stabilize the spine. Doing this will help insure you’re using proper form and helping to protect your back.

SOURCE

McGill S, Marshall LW. Kettlebell swing, snatch, and bottom-up carry: back and hip muscle activation, motion and low back loads. J Strength Cond Res. 2012;26(1):16-27.

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