Sunday, April 29, 2012

Kettlebell Core Beginnings

Hi everyone. I know it’s been a while since I’ve been able to write a new post, and, wanted to extend my gratitude to my family, friends, and faithful followers/subscribers for being patient with me during this time of me being completely swamped. This post comes from a personal experience with several clients this month who all seem to be having the same problem with low back pain and core control. Enjoy!

The strengthening and training the core is always a hot topic, and, rightfully so. I’m sure just about everyone agrees that the core is crucial to good physical health. This seems to be the thematic trend in the people and patients I’ve been coming across for the past month or so. What is described as functional lumbar instability commonly presents as poor control of the spine during dynamic movements. This can yield aberrant movements in the associated tissues which can cause excessive stress forces thus yielding a painful back. Since, we’ve already discussed the general sense of how kettlebells can help with back pain (Physical Therapy Web Space, Cyber PT, Kettlebell USA™), I felt it was high time to highlight some of the beginnings of using kettlebells to strengthen one’s core.

While I often use cables, pulley, bands, and suspension systems to strengthen the core, the kettlebell still offers and accentuates the physical forces experienced in real life.  For this reason, it will always be one of my go to instruments for functional strength.

One of my favorite beginning core progressions is the use of diagonal movements to incorporate all three dimensions of movement and thus core control. Commonly associated with exercises such as Lift and Chop or PNF diagonals, the Seated Diagonal Lift is a great way to take advantage of natural core function during dynamic movement.

Best done while sitting on a physio-ball, grab a kettlebell by the horns so that it is inverted. The bottom of your bell should be facing up and the horns down to the ground. Sitting on the ball, tighten up your core so that you are stable. While core bracing, you should still be able to breathe easily and carry a conversation. That is how you know you’ve properly engaged your core. Lift your kettlebell in diagonals from one hip to the opposite shoulder. Do your best to keep your arms as straight as you can, however, a little elbow bend won’t hurt anything. Be sure that your trunk always faces forward as to stabilize your spine. The movement comes from the shoulders and the shoulder blades. If you are doing this right, you should feel your core contract with each change of direction. Also, the faster you lift in these diagonals, the more hardy the core engagement.

The Seated Diagonal Lift is a great way to begin core training in a safe dynamic manner. I find this exercise especially helpful for individuals with chronic back pain with a poorly functioning core musculature. It is also great as a beginner’s level core exercise to set a good foundation for a solid program.

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