Lower Back Pain After a Kettlebell Workout


In a 2011 report on back pain statistics, The American Chiropractic Association reports that four out of five Americans will experience lower back pain at some point in their lives. Problems range from muscle strains to spinal disc herniations. Often the first episode will come following a new activity or exercise. For some people, that new exercise may be with kettlebells, a dynamic form of weight training similar to dumbbells.

Kettlebells for Workouts

Kettlebells have been part of weight training for more than 100 years and were part of early 20th century strongman demonstrations. Originating in Russia, the kettlebell resembles a bowling ball with a handle on it that an athlete can use to swing the weight, or hold while doing other exercises. Using a kettleball can provide an eccentric form of stress on your body. Moving the weight will require your body to brace to stabilize the movement and will place demands on the core muscles of your torso, including your lower back. By increasing core strength, a kettlebell workout can actually help avoid back problems.

Lower Back Pain

Although lower back pain is common, the causes are numerous. Problems can originate from strained muscles, osteoarthritis, spondylosis, degenerative joint disease, pinched nerves or herniated or bulging discs. Fortunately, almost half of back pain cases will resolve within two weeks and 90 percent within three months. Sometimes pain will radiate into the buttocks or back of the leg and is called sciatica. Even though most cases will improve without seeing your doctor, loss of bowel control or progressive weakness in your legs is a sign to get professional help immediately.


You can reduce your pain with a short period of rest and restriction of your activities. Apply ice for 10 to 15 minutes to reduce swelling. Try a heating pad to reduce muscle spasm and stiffness. There are a variety of non-steroidal anti-inflammatants available over the counter. Dr. Stephen Hochschuler, Lower Back Pain Control Center, recommends trying ibuprofen, sodium naproxide, or acetaminophen. He also recommends that if you are in doubt about your situation or if your pain worsens that you seek an evaluation with your doctor.

Using Kettlebells Safely

Kettlebells provide a different way to hold a weight and introduce new dynamics to a workout routine. However, any new exercise should be started gradually to allow your body to adapt to the new demands. Use correct form and always warm up slowly and stretch your muscles prior to your workout. Kettlebell exercises should be performed with your tailbone back rather than with a rounded back. Bend from your knees rather than your waist for kettlebell swings. Maintain a neutral spine by keeping a straight line from your hips to your head. If you have improper form, the rounding of the back causes your low back to hyperextend -- your weight will no longer be equally distributed across the body and you end up relying on your low back muscles to lift the weight. This can lead directly to low back pain.