By Mike Stehle Men's Fitness
Whether you're a new entry to kettlebell training or are an old hand, injuries can still strike at any time if you're practicing the moves incorrectly. We asked Mike Stehle, owner of Training Room Online what common mistakes he sees athletes of all experience levels making.
Not following proper movement progression
Too many people attempt exercises they and their bodies are not prepared to properly execute.
Area of risk: The most common area at risk is usually the back. For example: The kettlebell swing shouldn't be performed until the deadlift is mastered.
How to avoid: Be patient with your training and progress slowly. Take up sessions with a coach or trainer to develop a solid, progressive plan.
Not maintaining a neutral spine
A neutral spine establishes the correct alignment of the athlete. This must be kept in mind when performing swings, high pulls, clean or snatch.
Area of risk: The entire spine and surrounding musculature.
How to avoid: Keep a straight line from your hips to your head. You should be able to lay a broomstick along the entire spine.
Taking too wide a stance
All stances are not created equal. Overly extended stances during swings leave several areas vulnerable to injury.
Area of risk: Hips, knees and lower back.
How to avoid: Take an athletic stance. An athletic stance can be defined as a stance out of which you would jump.
Muscling the bell with the upper body
Overemphasis of upper body muscles during ballistic movements deteriorates exercise flow and can place strain on vulnerable areas.
Area of risk: Neck, shoulders, lower back.
How to avoid: Relax the upper body, use a hip snap and lock the knees out with each rep.
Training to muscle failure
Training to failure with kettlebells is asking for trouble.
Area of risk: Whatever area you push to failure is at risk. Form will suffer and lead to injury.
How to avoid: Stop several reps short of failure.
Attempting to rescue a bad repetition
If something doesn't feel right, there's a good chance it's not. Stop and put the bell down before paying the price.
Area of risk: Primarily the lower back.
How to avoid: Don't try to force reps. Be conscious of your form and the quality of the reps.
Trying to get too fancy
Attempting to invent new movements outside of the basics don't provide a reward worth the risk.
Area of risk: Mostly spine, but many things can go wrong when you do wacky things with a kettlebell
How to avoid: Stick to the basics. They work the best.
Using too tight a grip
Death gripping bells are pointless and dangerous with kettlebell ballistic movements.
Area of risk: Hands and elbows.
How to avoid: Relax your grip and hold the bell in the hook of the fingers rather than the meat of the hand.
Smashing the forearms
Kettlebell cleans and snatches change the bell's position during a movement—stay in control of the motion so the bell doesn't fall down and smash into your forearms.
Area of risk: Lower and upper arms.
How to avoid: Punch the kettlebell upwards instead of swinging it while relaxing the grip and allowing the bell to gently catch against your forearm.
Wearing Improper footwear
Running shoes are for running, not for kettlebells.
Area of risk: Running shoes raise the heal and can push the knee forward during squats or swing which could possibly contribute to knee injury.
How to avoid: Train in flat soled shoes or even go barefoot—you'll be more stable.