New research from Denmark has shown that the cast-iron weights with looped handles known as kettlebells may constitute a promising new therapy to remedy back and neck pain. Sadly, many people with joint pain avoid lifting traditional weights for fear of exacerbating their injuries.
However, scientific research has shown that strength training with popular kettlebells workouts, can play a huge part in reducing pain and preventing further injuries.
The weights, which take their name from a resemblance to tea kettles, have been increasingly popular in health clubs and gyms over the last decade. They provide a quick route to a full-body workout because they allow us to perform “functional” workouts which incorporate complex manoeuvres that involve many muscle groups at the same time.
These functional workouts are so called because they mimic the movement that we perform in our daily lives – lifting, pushing, pulling, jumping, and stepping for example- rather than the somewhat abstract movements that are often found in traditional isolation exercises such as biceps curls.
A leading exponent of Kettlebell training J.J. Blea from Alberqurque explained that the bells allow you to “move as one unit” by squeezing core muscles to stabilise the movement as the kettles are swung back and forth. A drawback to Kettlebells is that many exercisers are initially resistant to them because a new type of action is needed.
In the recent study, published in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment, and Health, the Danish researchers compared two groups suffering from back, shoulder, and neck pain: One who underwent a series of thrice-weekly kettlebell workouts and one that was simply encouraged to exercise. At the end of the experiment, those using the kettlebells reported around 50% less pain as well as improved strength in the trunk and core muscles.
Back pain has often been linked to a sedentary lifestyle because, while seated, tightness and weak spots develop along the posterior muscle chain, which includes the muscles running from the lower back down to the glutes, hamstrings and calves. The kettlebell workouts may strengthen this chain and reduce the pain by increasing blood flow to the posterior muscles as well. Kettlebell training is also good for our hearts and lungs. The American Council on Exercise reported that a 20-minute kettlebell workout burns about 21 calories a minute, which equates to running at a six-minute-mile pace.