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  1. #1
    Registered User tribou's Avatar
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    Unhappy love kettlebells, but wicked on lower back..help!!

    Love, love the kettlebell workouts!! It's been a long time since the aerobic classes of the 80's that I have sweat so much, but I have one huge issue. My lower back gets so painfully tight during the workout, that I have to stop and stretch constantly. I started out slow and light for 4 weeks and progressed to heavier and longer workouts. Then I go back and try the light ones again but nothing helps. I find the 20lb one is just right for most of the workout, except for 15 seconds into swings and my lower back is burning in pain. I am not new to weight lifting at all as most of my workouts before I discovered kettlebells were with free weights, 5 days a week, 45 minutes each day, so this is upsetting because I love the idea of it hitting all muscles in one workout and it's really fun. Once I get through the entire workout with stopping several times, I seem to be good for the day, without any long lasting effects of tearing up my back. It's only right at the time of the workout. What in the world am I doing wrong?
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  2. #2
    Kettlebear Marius_Ursus's Avatar
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    You shouldn't feel it in your lower back at all. Keep your lower back locked in place and pivot and drive hard with the hips to get the kettlebell overhead. Don't use your back for kettlebell work, or you will injure yourself!
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    Registered User JolietKev's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Marius_Ursus View Post
    You shouldn't feel it in your lower back at all. Keep your lower back locked in place and pivot and drive hard with the hips to get the kettlebell overhead. Don't use your back for kettlebell work, or you will injure yourself!
    ^^THis^^
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    Registered User tribou's Avatar
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    Okay, thanks. I think I must be using my back to drive it up. Maybe I'm not sticking my butt out far enough at the bottom of the swing and using my lower back instead of hips. Does it matter how far you bend over to swing it down through the legs? I'm going to search online for a video of a profile of the swing to see how to not use your back.
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  5. #5
    Kettlebear Marius_Ursus's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by tribou View Post
    Okay, thanks. I think I must be using my back to drive it up. Maybe I'm not sticking my butt out far enough at the bottom of the swing and using my lower back instead of hips. Does it matter how far you bend over to swing it down through the legs? I'm going to search online for a video of a profile of the swing to see how to not use your back.
    The trick really is sticking your butt back while keeping your back flat or even with a slightly deepened arch. You shouldn't be bending over so much as folding in the middle and bending the knees. As you fold, shove your butt back, bend the knees, and then snap/drive as hard as you can with the hips.

    This is a great video demonstrating swings. Anything with Steve Cotter is something you can trust. He's one of the best. Notice how neither of them bend their spines when pulling the moves.

    Vikings

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  6. #6
    Registered User paolo59's Avatar
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    There is quite an assortment of these contraptions at the gym where I work out. They are interesting to look at, different colors, sort of like incredibly heavy, overly large Christmas Tree ornaments! LOL I would kill myself if I ever began to play with them. "Man bludgeons himself about the head and shoulders while working out!" LMAO
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  7. #7
    Jersey Strong Minotaur's Avatar
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    That's the first time I've ever seen a kettlebell workout. Looks pretty good. I inquired about them a long time ago but never followed up. I'd still like to do something like that. I could do it in my garage. Sometimes I don't feel like driving to the gym. I read that it's sufficient for the average guy to start with the 32 lb kettlebells. If I go this route I'd probably get two. Some of the exercises I've been checking out use two. It looks pretty awesome.

    http://www.sport-fitness-advisor.com...exercises.html
    http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/mahler78.htm
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  8. #8
    Registered User BalloonKnot's Avatar
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    You need to make sure you stretch your hip flexors before and after. I would also stretch your hip flexors and/or glutes between every set. Do not stretch your hamstrings or lower back as this will just exasperate your issue.

    You need to work on your ankle mobility as well!

    You should be stretching your hip flexors several times a day seven days a week anyway.

    Your spinal erectors and glutes are tight after working with kettlebells. Couple that with tight hip flexors and you are gong to have lower back soreness and pain.
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  9. #9
    Kettlebear Marius_Ursus's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Minotaur View Post
    That's the first time I've ever seen a kettlebell workout. Looks pretty good. I inquired about them a long time ago but never followed up. I'd still like to do something like that. I could do it in my garage. Sometimes I don't feel like driving to the gym. I read that it's sufficient for the average guy to start with the 32 lb kettlebells. If I go this route I'd probably get two. Some of the exercises I've been checking out use two. It looks pretty awesome.

    http://www.sport-fitness-advisor.com...exercises.html
    http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/mahler78.htm
    You're probably thinking of the 16kg or 35 pound models. There's a 32 kg model, but it takes a while to build up to that. I have a pair of 16kg, pair of 24kg, and one 32kg model that I use at home almost daily. Much fun!

    Originally Posted by BalloonKnot View Post
    You need to make sure you stretch your hip flexors before and after. I would also stretch your hip flexors and/or glutes between every set. Do not stretch your hamstrings or lower back as this will just exasperate your issue.

    You need to work on your ankle mobility as well!

    You should be stretching your hip flexors several times a day seven days a week anyway.

    Your spinal erectors and glutes are tight after working with kettlebells. Couple that with tight hip flexors and you are gong to have lower back soreness and pain.
    ...I disagree with almost everything in this post. The only thing I don't disagree with is a general need for joint mobility...but not as it applies to kettlebell work. The idea of stretching the hip flexors before and after or the idea of stretching the hamstrings exacerbating the problem is very foreign to me.

    Where did you find/receive this information?
    Vikings

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  10. #10
    Jersey Strong Minotaur's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Marius_Ursus View Post
    You're probably thinking of the 16kg or 35 pound models. There's a 32 kg model, but it takes a while to build up to that. I have a pair of 16kg, pair of 24kg, and one 32kg model that I use at home almost daily. Much fun!
    Yes, that's the one. Don't know why I said 32 lbs. Damn Topamax. (I use that line for everything ). Btw, I just read that the 16kg kettlebell is a pood, the standard Russian unit of measure for that size kettlebell. I had a friend that used to call his ex-wife "pood", short for "poodly" when she got her hair permed. OK, total dissociation.
    They say abs are made in the kitchen, but I don't know if that's true. I'm always in the kitchen and I ain't seen no abs yet.
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  11. #11
    Kettlebear Marius_Ursus's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Minotaur View Post
    Yes, that's the one. Don't know why I said 32 lbs. Damn Topamax. (I use that line for everything ). Btw, I just read that the 16kg kettlebell is a pood, the standard Russian unit of measure for that size kettlebell. I had a friend that used to call his ex-wife "pood", short for "poodly" when she got her hair permed. OK, total dissociation.
    Exactly, mine are 1, 1.5, and 2 pood, respectively. The propaganda states that for a man, the smallest kettlebell you should train with is 1 pood. I don't know how much stock I place in that. That's what I started with, but I guess it would make sense to use a smaller one if you have lace on your panties.
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  12. #12
    Jersey Strong Minotaur's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Marius_Ursus View Post
    Exactly, mine are 1, 1.5, and 2 pood, respectively. The propaganda states that for a man, the smallest kettlebell you should train with is 1 pood. I don't know how much stock I place in that. That's what I started with, but I guess it would make sense to use a smaller one if you have lace on your panties.
    So I could go higher, to 1.5 pood to start? No, my skivvies are butch and alpha, with rips and all.
    They say abs are made in the kitchen, but I don't know if that's true. I'm always in the kitchen and I ain't seen no abs yet.
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  13. #13
    Registered User BalloonKnot's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Marius_Ursus View Post
    ...I disagree with almost everything in this post. The only thing I don't disagree with is a general need for joint mobility...but not as it applies to kettlebell work. The idea of stretching the hip flexors before and after or the idea of stretching the hamstrings exacerbating the problem is very foreign to me.

    Where did you find/receive this information?
    I have had lower back pain for the better part of the last 24 years (until I figure out the true cause) and I have spent over 10,000 hours being treated, exercising, or reading about lower back pain during that time.

    Dr. Stuart McGill has written books that bust this myth and he is THE expert on back pain.

    The common myth that tight hamstrings cause lower back pain is incorrect. Tight psoas major (hip flexor) is the cause from sitting all day every day at work, at home, in the car, etc. Tight glutes and spinal erectors from training will make this pain worse unless proper rolling and stretching techniques are followed.

    Lower back pain caused by tight hamstrings is a myth:

    http://www.sportsinjurybulletin.com/...exercises.html

    Originally Posted by Owen Anderson
    Myth: tight hamstrings predispose athletes to a heightened risk of low-back pain. Again, this hypothesis is as reasonable as an end-of-the day martini. After all, the hamstrings attach to low, posterior points (the ischial tuberosities) on each side of the hips, and as a result the ‘strings’, when tight, can generate posterior pelvic tilt. Now, posterior pelvic tilt decreases lumbar lordosis (an exaggerated forward curvature of the lumbar region of the spine), and decreases in lumbar lordosis have been hypothesised to cause low-back pain. There’s just one problem, though: in a nice study carried out with 600 young men, no association at all was detected between hamstring tightness and low-back pain(8). Many experts now believe that hamstring tightness in athletes with low-back pain may be a compensatory – not causative – mechanism which results from some form of pelvic instability (9).

    As mentioned, one concept about low-back pain which has not taken on mythical dimensions is the assertion that low-back-muscle endurance is the critical factor in preventing low-back troubles. If you still don’t buy this idea, consider one last study – a beauty carried out in Teheran, Iran, with a grand total of 600 subjects (10). These 600 individuals were subdivided into four groups: 150 asymptomatic men, 150 asymptomatic women, 150 men with low-back pain, and 150 women with the same. 17 physical characteristics (extent of lumbar lordosis, angle of pelvic tilt, length of abdominal muscles, length of low-back extensor muscles, length of hip-flexor muscles, length of hamstring muscles, length of hip-adductor muscles, endurance of erector-spinae muscles, length of the gastrocnemius muscles, length of the iliotibial band, leg-length discrepancy, foot-arch structure, and strength of the hip flexors, hip extensors, hip abductors, hip adductors, and abdominal muscles) were measured in each subject.

    As it turned out, among all of the physical characteristics measured, the endurance of the back-extensor (erector-spinae) muscles had the highest (negative) association with low-back pain. The Iranian researchers suggested that low-back-muscle endurance could be used as a screening tool to predict which individuals would be likely to develop low-back disorders.
    9. Tightness of Hamstring and Psoas Major Muscles: A Prospective Study of Back Pain in Young Men during Their Military Service,’ Ups J Med Sci, Vol. 93, pp. 267-276, 1988

    10. ‘The Role of the Hamstring in Pelvic and Spinal Function’, in Movement Stability and Low Back Pain: The Essential Role of the Pelvis. (Pp. 207-210), New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1997

    11. ‘Relationship between Mechanical Factors and Incidence of Low Back Pain,’Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, Vol. 32, pp. 447-460, 2002

    Question and answer with Dr. Stuart McGill regarding back pain:

    http://www.tmuscle.com/free_online_a...back_to_mcgill

    Originally Posted by Biotest Interview
    T-Nation: Millions of people feel "tight" in their lower back, so they logically assume that the best way to fix the problem is to stretch the lower back out. With our DVD and writing, Mike Robertson and I have gone to great lengths to show that it's a deficit in hip mobility that's actually one of the problems, and that stability of the spine is what these people need. Care to elaborate?

    Dr. McGill: I agree. When we test athletes who complain of being tight, and who have been stretching to deal with this sensation, many show their problem to be neurogenic tension – not always tight muscles.

    So, while stretching the back, hamstrings, and the like, may feel good as the stretch receptors are stimulated – the neural tissues are stretched causing more stiffness the next day. Worse yet are those who may have stiffness due to disc bulges, and stretching only makes the bulges larger.

    Immobility of the hip joint has been shown to be a correlate of back troubles. True hip joint mobility can be trained in some people, but again, the source must be ferreted out. It could be a tight or compromised hip joint capsule, tight muscles, or neural tension.

    By the way, in lifters, neural tension usually originates in a lumbar root from a disc bulge. Stretching is contraindicated in this case. The key is to move or change posture to assist the bulge in reducing, then proceed with nerve root flossing techniques, then correct the faulty lifting pattern that caused the bulge in the first place.
    I find it hard to believe this is all new to you considering it has been out there for at least ten years.
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  14. #14
    Kettlebear Marius_Ursus's Avatar
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    None of that has anything to do with kettlebell training. That's where I was coming from.
    Vikings

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    Originally Posted by Marius_Ursus View Post
    None of that has anything to do with kettlebell training. That's where I was coming from.
    I was answering the OP.

    I did not read your posts but you challenged my post...

    If you do not perform correctives prior to, during if necessary, after and in between training sessions your body will break down and you will not be able to train. Those over 35 must perform correctives daily...I do.

    Couch potatoes do not have to worry about this for now...but if you train with kettlebells without addressing hip and ankle mobility you will have lower back pain.

    Kettlebell training is hard on the lower back for the vast majority of weight trainers over 35 and that is why correctives must be performed so kettlebell training and training in general can continue.

    Kettlbells are great and I use them weekly!
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    OK, I do what you call correctives. I call them "mobility training"...just a cultural difference. I never associated them with kettlebell training in general. In fact I found that a lot of my problems corrected themselves when I took up kettlebells.
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    Originally Posted by Marius_Ursus View Post
    OK, I do what you call correctives. I call them "mobility training"...just a cultural difference. I never associated them with kettlebell training in general. In fact I found that a lot of my problems corrected themselves when I took up kettlebells.
    Right on!

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    AHHH!! I figured it out and did a complete workout with lower back pain. Thank you muchly!! I was dropping the bell down too far during the back swing, lower than my knees and bending over too far, which put me too far forward on the up swing.....that all equals massive lower back pain!!! Thanks again.
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    Originally Posted by Minotaur View Post
    So I could go higher, to 1.5 pood to start? No, my skivvies are butch and alpha, with rips and all.
    Sorry, Frank. I missed this before.

    Yes, you can start higher if you're confident that you can learn the exercises without injuring your back and shoulders. Bear in mind that when I first started using kettlebells, the only thing I could do was swings. It took a couple of months of swings to be able to clean it. Then I used cheats until I could press it without assitance. After about...I think a little over a year, I was using the trio I still own to this day.

    I wrote an article on swinging kettlebells for the specific purpose of developing posterior chain strength to be able to continue escalating exercises on DragonDoor. It's called "Swinging Your Way To Strength" if you want to look it up.

    Originally Posted by tribou View Post
    AHHH!! I figured it out and did a complete workout with lower back pain. Thank you muchly!! I was dropping the bell down too far during the back swing, lower than my knees and bending over too far, which put me too far forward on the up swing.....that all equals massive lower back pain!!! Thanks again.
    I hope you mean you did the entire workout without lower back pain.

    You're welcome and any time.
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  20. #20
    Jersey Strong Minotaur's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Marius_Ursus View Post
    Sorry, Frank. I missed this before.

    Yes, you can start higher if you're confident that you can learn the exercises without injuring your back and shoulders. Bear in mind that when I first started using kettlebells, the only thing I could do was swings. It took a couple of months of swings to be able to clean it. Then I used cheats until I could press it without assitance. After about...I think a little over a year, I was using the trio I still own to this day.

    I wrote an article on swinging kettlebells for the specific purpose of developing posterior chain strength to be able to continue escalating exercises on DragonDoor. It's called "Swinging Your Way To Strength" if you want to look it up.
    I'll look for the article. Thanks.

    With 1.5 pood I'm sure I can do the swings; I know I can do the floor presses since I can dumbell bench more than 24 k/53 lb; I can certainly suitcase deadlift them; I think cleaning will be tough at 24 k, at least both at once. I might be able to do one at a time; that would even be a struggle. I know I can alternate curl 24 k, but not side raise. I'm limited to 35 lb dumbells for that.

    At this point I'd like to start into a routine that will increase my stamina and c/v ability as well as burn fat; I'm past wanting the thick power type physique and lifting style. I think it's time to go for something more athletic.

    I think the best thing to do is to go to a sporting goods store and try both weights to see just what I can do. I can barely afford the $190 or so for a pair of 16 k kettlebells, much less a 16 and 24 at this point. Though of course after a few months seeing how I progress, if I withdraw from my gym and save the $55/mo. they will have paid for themselves quickly.
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    Originally Posted by Minotaur View Post
    I'll look for the article. Thanks.

    With 1.5 pood I'm sure I can do the swings; I know I can do the floor presses since I can dumbell bench more than 24 k/53 lb; I can certainly suitcase deadlift them; I think cleaning will be tough at 24 k, at least both at once. I might be able to do one at a time; that would even be a struggle. I know I can alternate curl 24 k, but not side raise. I'm limited to 35 lb dumbells for that.

    At this point I'd like to start into a routine that will increase my stamina and c/v ability as well as burn fat; I'm past wanting the thick power type physique and lifting style. I think it's time to go for something more athletic.

    I think the best thing to do is to go to a sporting goods store and try both weights to see just what I can do. I can barely afford the $190 or so for a pair of 16 k kettlebells, much less a 16 and 24 at this point. Though of course after a few months seeing how I progress, if I withdraw from my gym and save the $55/mo. they will have paid for themselves quickly.
    It took me several years to get the set of 2 16kg, 2 24kg, and 1 32kg that I have now. I like using them as supplemental tools for the weightlifting and for kicking my heart rate and breathing into overdrive before I do sprints of some other "cardio" conditioning work. For a while I was using them exclusively, but after time the novelty wore off, and now they're a tool in my arsenal, not the arsenal.

    Good luck to you with this. They're really great.

    Oh, one other thing. Don't compare the weight of a 24kg dumbbell to the kettlebell. The density is very, very different because of the shape. You'll be surprised at how much heavier ~53 pounds is when it's centered vs. when it's on either end of a handle.
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    OK, so let's review, if I understand correctly (damn Topa... well, let's not milk that one dry ):

    1. Don't quit the gym if I find the kettlebells work out? They're an adjunct to a different type of gym workout.

    2. The 24 k kettlebell is going to feel a lot heavier than a 50-55 lb dumbell? That tells me to start with 16 K. Of course, there's the trying them out in the store.

    Btw, I found the article and am about to start reading it.
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    Originally Posted by Minotaur View Post
    OK, so let's review, if I understand correctly (damn Topa... well, let's not milk that one dry ):

    1. Don't quit the gym if I find the kettlebells work out? They're an adjunct to a different type of gym workout.

    2. The 24 k kettlebell is going to feel a lot heavier than a 50-55 lb dumbell? That tells me to start with 16 K. Of course, there's the trying them out in the store.

    Btw, I found the article and am about to start reading it.
    1. Yes, but that's goals driven like everything else. I have some friends, especially martial artists, who train exclusively with kettlebells. Others who swear by kettlebells and bodyweight. It's all about what you want to acheive.

    2. Yes. If you can one-arm clean and press a 70lb dumbbell, the 24kg will be OK.
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    Good article!

    Originally Posted by Marius_Ursus View Post
    1. Yes, but that's goals driven like everything else. I have some friends, especially martial artists, who train exclusively with kettlebells. Others who swear by kettlebells and bodyweight. It's all about what you want to acheive.
    Ah yes... I was hinting around yesterday about where my stepdaughter got her little 8 lb 'bells. She's working out with them at home. She got them at Wal-Mart! Yes, iron. My b'day is next week...

    Bottom line, this now gives me a chance to re-work the gym routines that have been boring me to death and keeping me from wanting to go. That is, if I get them for my b'day. I have enough guitars (for now ).

    2. Yes. If you can one-arm clean and press a 70lb dumbbell, the 24kg will be OK.
    OK, so the 16 k it will be! No way can I one-arm clean and press a 70lb dumbbell. I can certainly barbell that and more, but not dumbell. I think 1 pood will do me fine to start.
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    Originally Posted by Minotaur View Post
    Good article!

    Ah yes... I was hinting around yesterday about where my stepdaughter got her little 8 lb 'bells. She's working out with them at home. She got them at Wal-Mart! Yes, iron. My b'day is next week...

    Bottom line, this now gives me a chance to re-work the gym routines that have been boring me to death and keeping me from wanting to go. That is, if I get them for my b'day. I have enough guitars (for now ).

    OK, so the 16 k it will be! No way can I one-arm clean and press a 70lb dumbbell. I can certainly barbell that and more, but not dumbell. I think 1 pood will do me fine to start.
    Thanks very much.

    Any other questions or suggestions, you know where I post. I'm always more than happy to help.
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    No, thank you!

    No, thank you! I insist!

    Please don't mention it! I wouldn't hear of it.

    Remember Mac 'n Tosh the overly polite chipmunks in the Bugs Bunny cartoons?
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    Originally Posted by Minotaur View Post
    No, thank you!

    No, thank you! I insist!

    Please don't mention it! I wouldn't hear of it.

    Remember Mac 'n Tosh the overly polite chipmunks in the Bugs Bunny cartoons?
    Yeah, a little too well. I was laughing by the end of the first line.
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