How To Do Kettlebell Swings Without Pain And Injury

The kettlebell swing is one of my favorite exercises to improve movement, strength and metabolic health. With that being said, because this movement is harder to control than others there is a higher potential for injury. Learning how to do kettlebell swings with our step-by-step approach will allow you to include this extremely effective exercise into your routine without pain and injury.

How To Do Kettlebell Swings

Ready the practice your kettlebell swing? Follow these instructions to learn how to do kettlebell swings without aggravating lower back pain. Then keep reading to learn how to avoid common mistakes and safe ways to work up to doing swings. Before trying kettlebell swings it’s important to familiarize your self with the hip hinge movement and neutral spine position. To perform:

  1. Stand a few feet back from you bell with feet about hip width apart
  2. Grab kettlebell with both hands keeping a neutral spine
  3. Lift and pull backwards to move into the bottom of your swing
  4. Keep your neutral spine (don’t let lower back round)
  5. Shoot your hips forward, using the momentum created to get the weight up
  6. Stop when arms are parallel to ground
  7. Allow weight to fall, controlling its movement with your arms
  8. As weight drops, shift you hips back into the hinge position
  9. Maintain your neutral spine as you ‘catch’ the weight at the bottom (between your legs).
  10. Shoot hips forward to get weight back up.
  11. Repeat
Watch The Video Below To Learn More About How To Do Kettlebell Swings w/ Dr. Carl Baird

Common Kettlebell Swing Mistakes That Can Lead To Injury

When learning how to do kettlebell swings correctly it’s important to remember that FORM should take precedence over everything else. Avoiding the common mistakes below will help you master the exercise and avoid lower back pain and injury.

Overextending at The Top

In an effort to get the weight all the way up, you may try overextending at your low back. This puts increased pressure on the facet joints of your lumbar spine and will eventually lead to pain and injury. Get the weight up by shooting the hips forward.

Rounding At The Bottom

Another common mistake is rounding the low back at the bottom of the swing. This puts increased pressure on the intervertebral discs of your lumbar spine and will eventually lead to pain and injury. Maintain your neutral spine through the entirety of the movement.

Too Much Knee Bend

Too much knee bend puts unnecessary forces through the knee. It also makes it more difficult to generate power from the hips to lift heavier weights. Keep the movement in the hips by hinging, not squatting your kettlebell swings.

Picking The Wrong Weight

What may feel light at the beginning of a workout can easily become difficult as you fatigue. Make sure to pick a weight that you can maintain good form through the entirety of your workout to avoid pain and injury. 

Set of kettlebells
Setting Weight Down

Stopping and setting down the weight with good form is just as important as the movement itself. Setting the weight down one handed, back rounded, while the weight is still swinging is a good way to injure your lower back.

Working Up To Kettlebell Swings

Learning how to do kettlebell swings is a step-by-step process. To help you avoid pain and injury I’ve provided a few exercises to practice maintaining a neutral spine, the hip hinge, and how to generate power from the hips in a safer environment.

1. Keeping A Neutral Spine

Knowing how to find and keep neutral spine position will help you avoid injury with kettlebell swings. Maintaining the integrity of your three spinal curves will limit the impact that goes through your spine and help you avoid pain and injury.

2. Learn To Hip Hinge

The kettlebell swing is a hinge movement. Before trying to swing a heavy weight, it’s absolutely vital that you learn, understand and practice the hip hinge movement.

3. The Banded Hip Hinge

Once you have the hip hinge movement down, you can add some resistance using a band. This variation will help you practice maintaining a neutral spine while hinging with some resistance.

4. The Weighted Hip Hinge

Now let’s bring in the kettlebells! The weighted hip hinge is a safe variation to practice your hinge movement with a kettlebell.

5. Banded Pull Through’s

This variations will help you practice generating power by shooting your hips forward. This is key to developing the momentum to get the kettlebell up. Especially important at heavier weights.

Learning how to do kettlebell swings without pain and injury will help you build confidence and have more fun with your exercise routine. For more information on how to build strength without stressing your joints, be sure to download my free guide ‘Solving Pain With Strength’ at the link below.

Build Strength Without Stressing Your Joints With Our Free Program

Solving Pain With Strength: An Approachable, Step-by-Step Strength Program For Adults Limited By Joint Pain

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