Claire began bodybuilding in her teens, winning over twenty regional & national titles, ultimately placing third at the world championships.
For 10 years, Claire has owned the Bodyology studio with her husband, Roger, working with patients referred by Osteopaths, Chiropractors & Physiotherapists for fundamental movement rehabilitation.
She now coaches barbell & kettlebell courses nationally & travels the world teaching safe & effective strength training for StrongFirst.
To see Claire speak on our 6th live event at London South Bank Uni, click here.
Kettlebells and 5 Unique Benefits
What makes Kettlebell swing exercises unique and effective for optimising back health?
1. Dynamic Strength Endurance
A critical way of reducing the risk of lower back injury (or any musculoskeletal injury) is by increasing your strength or muscular endurance. It has been said that it is the best way to reduce lower back pain, as opposed to only strength. Using higher repetitions and a lower load will help you enhance strength and endurance as a combination.
Performing a kettlebell swing means that as we produce sustained muscular contraction and stabilization, especially when performing high repetitions and high volume workloads, we get the unique advantage of dynamic strength endurance. The plank, for example, would be a static strength endurance exercise. You would use a lot of core strength endurance if you were to do swings for high repetitions.
Dynamic strength endurance is a distinct characteristic of the swing which greatly contributes to keeping the back strong, healthy, and powerful.
2. Promotes Spinal Stability
To perform the swing you need enough core strength to stabilise yourself, which will serve as a foundation to build more stability. An example would be if you can’t hold a static plank for at least a minute, we’ve got to fix that before attempting to swing a kettlebell. You will need to hold that level of stabilisation throughout the whole swing.
Power breathing (also known as biomechanical matched breathing) is when the exhalation matches the forward motion and helps to set the spine for maximum stiffness and stability at the top of the swing. The breathing technique develops the stabilisation to a higher level than your baseline.
One of the reasons the mechanics are so unique is because the swing is a ballistic exercise (fast and explosive). The kettlebell swing will promote spinal stability through its dynamic, powerful and explosive movements.
3. Minimises Muscle Imbalances
The motion of the swing specifically addresses the hip flexors and hip extensors. Tight hip flexors can be a problem we commonly see in people. When the kettlebell is projected forward, any tightness in the hip flexors will be stretched and will improve pelvic mobility. The hip drive, when performed properly, makes the swing a powerful and explosive movement, which will strengthen weak hip extensors.
Research demonstrates that the swing produces high levels of muscle activation with all posterior and anterior chain muscle groups, as well as most major hip muscles. More specifically, to contribute to back health, the swing activates muscles in the glutes, abs and erector spinae muscles.
4. Bio-Mechanics of the Hip Hinge
To properly perform the swing, you must fully execute the hip hinge movement. The Kettlebell swing uses more speed and movement efficiency, compared to the deadlift for example. A clean hip hinge will make the exercise more powerful, safe and efficient. As mentioned before, you’re looking to increase the explosion movement, which can be done by using high volumes.
The spine remains neutral during the hip hinge, which helps to optimise spinal biomechanics and promote great spinal position.
5. The Tall Spine Effect
The “tall spine” effect is actively getting tall at the top of the swing when the bell is projected horizontally, without hyperextending your lumbar spine by exaggerating the backward lean at the top of the swing. By focusing on “getting tall” and being self-aware of your movement, it will feel like you are opening the intervertebral spaces at the top of the swing. From learning the positioning through the swing exercise, you can become more self-aware about your spinal position and alignment in normal day to day life.
Based from Scott Iardella’s article.
Find out more about the hip hinge from Mark Reifkind here.
To find out more about the versatility of Kettlebells come hear Claire speak at the event on Sunday 20th May 2018. Click here for tickets.