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3 Essentials Of The Kettlebell Swing

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The Kettlebell Swing is becoming one of the most used exercises in fitness today. And for good reason! When performed correctly I think the argument can be made that it is one of the best exercises around for performance and injury prevention. That is IF it is performed correctly. If it is not performed correctly it can actually lead to injury.


Now as I have discussed in past videos, everyone’s anatomy is different, so not two swings will look exactly alike. That is OK! With that being said, I believe there is, at a minimum, 3 rules that should apply to everyone doing a kettlebell swing.


  • Bend with your hips, NOT your low back!


With the prevalence of back pain at alarming rates, we should be doing all we can to train safely and avoid low back problems. Lumbar flexion, especially under load, can be especially problematic. This is why, if performed correctly, I think the kettlebell swing is such a powerful exercise. It is a dynamic hip hinge, teaching the user to separate low back from hip movement (sometimes easier said than done).  Core stability and hip mobility are key factors here, which is one reason why everyone’s swing wont look the same. This is easily the most common problem I see when assessing a swing, so try your best to avoid it!


  • Your Shoulders Are Not Raising The Kettlebell.


Active movement with the shoulders during the ascent of the swing is another common fault I see. The shoulders should be stable (scapulothoracic joint adhered to ribcage via serratus anterior, etc.), but this is not an anterior deltoid raise. The momentum made for your hip extension and knee extension is enough to propel the bell up, instead to using your shoulders to raise it.


  • Hip Extension, Knee Extension


At the top of the swing, you should have achieved both hip extension and knee extension. If you keep you knee and hips bent, guess where the extension movement will be coming from? Bingo, your low back! Once again, stability in the core will help guide you through this. The keys are glute activation in the hips, while also extending the knees with the quads.


The kettlebell swing is one of my favorite exercises, but is NOT for everyone. It is my recommendation before performing an exercise such as this, you should consult a healthcare provider or qualified personal trainer to guide you through each of these movements.


Dr. Kirk Mason, Premier Chiropractic, Chiropractor Minot ND