The Kettlebell Swing is one of the best exercises in the world for whole-body conditioning. However, it’s also very technical – there are a whole lot more moving parts to the Swing than, say, a Bicep Curl.
One of the most common problems folks get when learning the Swing (especially those that are self-instructed) is lower back pain. And this is very bad – because the Kettlebell Swing isn’t an exercise for your lower back! In fact, if you’re doing it right, you shouldn’t feel it in your back at all. So if you’re experiencing lower back pain during the Swing, here are two reasons why it might be happening – and two drills to help correct your form:
1. Rounding the back/ not creasing at the hip
There should be a totally, completely straight line from your hip to your shoulder during the Swing – like this:
Don’t be afraid to let your body come forward; just don’t confuse a straight back with a flat back. In my experience, when people think ’straight’, they think their body has to be straight up and down.
Stand in front of a heavy bag. Do a Sumo Deadlift and ‘punch’ the bag with your butt as you decend into the movement and the kettlebell gets closer to the floor. You should feel the hamstrings load up during the movement and should feel nothing in the lower back. Once you’ve ‘grooved’ this movement, do a few Swings – and try to get the same feeling and patterning in the lower body.
2. Swinging the ‘bell too low to the ground
Another common mistake during the Swing is when you ‘hike pass’ the weight back, you end up with the weight too close to the ground. This is a sure-fire way to cause lower back pain with the Kettlebell Swing.
The kettlebell should be close and tight to the body as you do your Swings – imagine you’re hike passing a football. Another visual that helps is to try and get the bottom of the ‘bell to face the wall behind you.
So there you have two common causes of lower back pain during the Kettlebell Swing – and two drills to perfect your form. Keep training hard!
Additional Kettlebell Swing Resources:
Lifetime Kettlebell Fitness – Learn how to do kettlebell swings (and the other KB basics) from the “ground up” – great beginner’s resource
The Kettlebell Basics Swing Manual – Complete 12 week workout plan to take you from KB newb to HardStyle swing master