1. Kettlebell exercises strengthen the glutes.
The late Vladimir Janda, M.D. from Czech republic observed that people with low back dysfunction often exhibit “gluteal amnesia.” And if not overcome with proper recruitment pattern practice, it is likely to lead to more back problems as the back has to take over the lifting task of the powerful glutes. The glutes are strongly emphasized in kettlebell training.
2. Kettlebell exercises stretch the hip flexors.
In Janda’s research weak glutes were associated with tight hip flexors. The RKC system is second to none in promoting hip flexor flexibility.
3. Kettlebells develop back endurance.
Prof. Stuart McGill, the #1 spine biomechanist in the world, concluded that while lower back strength surprisingly does not appear to reduce the odds of back problems, muscular endurance does. Enter the high repetition kettlebell swing and snatch.
4. “Bracing” is superior to “hollowing” for spinal stability.
Misinterpreted research has lead to the popular today recommendation to “pull your navel in toward your spine.” “Bracing,” defined by Dr. McGill as symmetric stiffening of all the muscles surrounding the spine without hollowing or pushing out the abdominal wall, is a superior technique (see McGill’s book Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance, 4th Ed., available from his website, www.backfitpro.com). The RKC system of kettlebell training teaches many innovative techniques to improve your spine bracing skill.
5. Sensible ballistic loading appears to reduce the odds of arthritis.
Repetitive ballistic loading of kettlebell swings and other quick lifts appears to be highly beneficial to your joints—provided you do not overdo it. Drs. Verkhoshansky and Siff state in Supertraining (available from www.elitefts.com): “…joints subjected to heavy impact are relatively free of osteoarthritis in old age and those subjected to much lower loading experience a greater incidence of osteoarthritis and cartilage fibrillation… as one progresses up the lower extremity, from the ankle, to the knee, the hip and finally to the lumbar spine, so the extent of fibrillation increases at any given age. It appears that the cartilage of joints subjected to regular impulsive loading with relatively high contact stresses is mechanically much stiffer and better adapted to withstand the exceptional loading of running and jumping than the softer cartilage associated with low loading. Thus, joint cartilage subjected to regular repetitive loading remains healthy and copes very well with impulsive loads, whereas cartilage that is heavily loaded infrequently softens… the collagen network loses its cohesion and the cartilage deteriorates.”
6. Unique kettlebell exercises are great for strengthening the multifidus.
Weakness in this small intrinsic spine muscle has been linked to back problems. Physical therapist Steve McNamara, RKC has concluded that kettlebell exercises, especially juggling, safely recruit and strengthen the MF. Read McNamara’s article on www.DragonDoor.com; click on Kettlebell Articles.
7. “Injury prevention by imperfection training”
The late Dr. Mel Siff pointed out that the traditional injury prevention strategy of avoiding “dangerous” exercises and excessive loads is inadequate. The scientist advocated “injury prevention by imperfection training.” Taking carefully measured doses of “poisonous” exercises to build up one’s tolerance is a standard Russian practice. An example is the Russian hockey deadlift demonstrated on my Resilient DVD. It combines spine torsion and forward flexion, traditionally a no-no combination. “Injury prevention by imperfection training” is an advanced practice, generally frowned upon by medical professionals. Clear it with your doc and practice it at your own risk.
Our kettlebell instructor, Rick has been teaching the fundamentals of kettlebell training for over 7 years and really knows his stuff! We are lucky to have him as part of the team at Ultimate Health!
We are currently holding classes at our Bel Air location on Wednesdays 5:00pm – 6:00pm! Spots are limited. call or text the office for more information at 443-222-0033
Here is another great article by Dr. Patrick Roth for those that want to get an idea of how medical professionals incorporate kettlebells into their rehab programs.
Kettlebells Have Your Back: A Neurosurgeon’s Personal and Professional Perspective