Moving past back pain

Back pain. We all deal with it at some point in our life. NO! We should not have this idea just because we age we will eventually deal with back pain.  

At the age of 25 I started to deal with chronic back pain! I was teased for being “old” and I had to simply deal with it.  But I was determined and to find a way to help me release the pain. I had a bulging disk at T11-T12 a very uncommon area for a bulging. After 2 years of working with Chiropractors and Physical Therapist, I discovered from a college the amazing benefit of the kettlebell swing for strengthening the back.  

During those two years of working with other health profession, I learned I had a hyper-mobile lower back and rigid mid back. Completely opposite of what your back should be; a stable lower back and mobile mid-back.  Before I started to learn the power exercise of the kettlebell swing, I had to correct these aspects of my back.  

With the experience with working through my own back pain, I continue to see the benefits of the kettlebell swing for clients who deal with scoliosis.  Before we start with the kettlebell swing, I make sure they can do theses five exercises without pain and with beautiful form.  

The reason why you ask?  The kettelbell swing requires stability while at the same time creates stability. However the forward acceleration of the swing phase produces a posterior shear forces in relation to compressive forces. If someone has instable vertebral segments, which most of those with scoliosis do simple because of the structure of the back, this could be high-risk exercise.  But this does not mean it can never be done.  All of the clients I work with who have scoliosis all swing the kettlebell. To get them there, we started with these five exercises first! 

The goal with these five exercises is to create stability by activating the core to create a cylinder of support.  By working the cross patterning of the shoulder and hips will increase the core strength and stabilize for shearing and compressive forces of the Kettlebell swing.  All of theses exercises are key for stabilizing the spine and connecting the lower and upper back.

  1. Bird Dog
  2. Dead Bug
  3. Get up to Elbow 
  4. Hard Style Plank
  5. Dead Lift

Below are some common mistakes of these simple exercises with some quick fixes. These exercises can be done by anyone to help create a stronger core and I highly recommend it!  I still do all of these myself! 


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Common Mistakes for Bird Dog

  • Arm and leg higher then hips and shoulders
  • Ballerina toes. 

Easy Fix for Bird Dog – 

  • Place a closed water bottle ½ full on your lower back for feedback if you are able to keep the back stable or not. 
  • Place a box behind you and reach your heal to it, imagine you are pushing it back with your heal.  This will help you activate your glutes to support you back 

Common Mistakes Dead Bug 

  • Arching the back 
  • Wrong leg positions 

Easy Fix for Dead Bug

  • Place a towel under you lower back and have a friend try to pull it away from your back.  This will give you feedback if you core is on and able to stabilize the lower back.  
  • Bring your knees to chest then slowly move your legs away from your chest till you feel your core zip up.  Once you feel this you know your legs are in the right position. If you legs go to far you will feel your back lift off the ground.  This is to far!

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Common Mistakes for The Get up to Elbow 

  • Shagging shoulder 
  • Collapse core or arched back crunching up verses the roll 

Easy fix for Turkish Get up

  • Hold on to a support system like a Kettlebell handle or the base of stable table, this will help create a pulling motion with the shoulder and elbow. 
  • Remember to roll through the opposite hip as you create a pulling motion through the elbow 

Common Mistakes for Hard Style Plank

  • Hammock lower back
  • Mountain with hips and shoulders 

Easy Fix for Hard Style Plank

  • Put a dowel on your back and make sure your head shoulder and butt are all in contact with the dowel. 
  • Remember to create as much tension as possible by pushing your feet into the floor, and squeeze the glutes. 

Common mistakes for Dead Lift 

  • Rounded back 
  • Squatting into it 

Easy Fix for Dead Lift

  • Stand a foot or a foot and ½ distance away from the wall and butt tap the wall. Having the wall behind you will help you from squatting into the dead Lift.  (I like to call these love taps)
  • To help with the rounding back, once you are in the standing position walk back so your hips, shoulders and head are touching the wall. This is very similar to placing a dowel on your back for your planks.  The standing position of your Dead lift is the same as a plank. It is a vertical plank. 
Posted on February 19, 2016 and filed under Coach's Tips, #FuelFriday.