Kettlebell training is a fantastic way to develop functional total body strength. Multiple muscles are engaged throughout a well-constructed workout that give you both cardiovascular and strength benefits at the same time. Unfortunately there are many people who don't fully understand how to use kettlebells properly, which can lead to unnecessary injuries such as lower back pain from strained muscles. Not only will poor technique make you more injury prone, but also it can result in certain muscles being overworked, causing muscular imbalances, and it can also reduce the intensity of the workout making it less effective. With kettlebell training the key aspect is to always protect the back.
Posture Begins with the Feet
Strong technique and proper posture begin with the right pair of shoes. Kettlebells work by trying to pull your body off-balance, forcing the muscles to engage and make micro-corrections to maintain your centre of gravity. This means that you should have a strong base from which to support the rest of your body. Running trainers are not good for kettlebell training, as the cushioning compresses as your foot moves away from the centre of the shoe and forces your core and back to work overtime to bring you back in alignment. Fortunately there are plenty of budget cross-training shoes and basketball hi-tops that have a solid base and help to reduce this.
Spinal Protection from the Core
The core doesn't just consist of just the abdominals; it is made up of all of the muscles surrounding the spinal column at the lumbar (lower) region of the spine. If you think of the core as a corset or a weight-lifting belt you should be able to understand the need for strong muscles that will reduce unplanned spinal flexion and extension. Engaging the core will stop the muscles holding the vertebrae together from over-stretching and becoming inflamed, this is providing that the core muscles are contracted throughout all kettlebell exercises and even when picking it up and putting it down.
Breathing goes hand-in-hand with core contraction. Not only does an oxygen deficit make any exercise harder, it also accounts for shortness of breath and degradation in technique to compensate for the increased difficulty. Whenever you swing the kettlebell or complete the eccentric part of the move, exhale sharply and get into the habit of tensing your abdominals at the same time. This will help to create rhythmic breathing, which will subconsciously cause core contractions, even when you are exhausted.