Are Kettlebells Dangerous?

Over the past years, kettlebells have exploded in popularity, becoming a staple of all gym programs. They’re so beneficial that you may want to incorporate them in your workouts as soon as possible. But can they also be dangerous and hurt your body?

Kettlebells can be dangerous just like any other gym equipment if you don’t learn how to use them in proper form. Choosing the wrong weight for a kettlebell, going too fast, and not learning the correct form can set you up for injuries. Plus, you may also drop the kettlebell if you aren’t careful.

Read on to learn more about the potential dangers of kettlebells and how you can easily avoid them.

Kettlebells are Dangerous for Your Upper Body Parts

A common opinion, and one probably backed by common sense, is that kettlebells can hurt your back, lower back, shoulders, and neck. Things get even worse with explosive kettlebell lifting. If you don’t keep proper form, you might end up with injuries in these areas.

But if done properly, kettlebell lifting can be even beneficial to back pain. For example, this study found that kettlebell training decreased the pain in the neck and shoulders, and lower back after training 3 times a week for 8 weeks.

One of the most common reasons that make people avoid kettlebells is that kettlebells can injure your shoulders in overhead exercises. But the primary factor that leads to shoulder injuries in overhead exercises is lack of mobility, not the weight you use. 

Kettlebells can provide more stability and less load on the shoulders because your movements aren’t restricted and linear. Unlike barbells or dumbbells, you can move around the kettlebell to make your shoulders rotate naturally.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWESVqOwMHw

You May Drop the Kettlebell

Dropping the weights while training isn’t uncommon. You may have seen people dropping their barbells or dumbbells accidentally. And the same might happen for kettlebells. 

But it doesn’t mean that you see kettlebells flying around in the gyms hitting other fellow gym members. This risk is also totally avoidable if you learn how to use the equipment properly and improve your grip.

Improve your grip

Using low-quality kettlebells may also lead to accidents that are completely avoidable. This set of high-quality kettlebells, available on Amazon, is a good choice made of durable cast iron and covered with vinyl to avoid corrosion and prevent dropping. 

There’s no denying that kettlebell training is a complex process that requires proper instruction. And safety comes first in dealing with such tools as kettlebells because they may take extra skill to handle. And no one is saying that you should start kettle training with advanced movements such as a double kettlebell snatch. Instead, you start with simple and manageable tasks such as a goblet squat, and when you master the movements, you move on to the next level.

So, if you take things slowly, moving one step forward at a time, there’s nothing to worry about. Plus, you won’t use kettlebells with completely new exercises. Instead, you learn the movement properly and then add kettlebells as a weight to them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q68QfoQyf6Q

Why do Kettlebells have Higher Risks of Injury?

If we admit that kettlebells have higher risks of injury (which many professional trainers deny), here are possible explanations:

Kettlebell movements look easy: all you need to do is grab the tool by its handle and move it around like a dumbbell. But there’s more to kettlebell exercises than you think. You need to maintain your form spot-on to avoid anything moving out of place and protect your body from injuries.

What’s more, Kettlebell exercises come with a steep learning curve, which may take a long time to learn proper form. If an exerciser isn’t patient enough, they may skip this learning process and start doing too much too soon. That’s a perfect recipe for disaster, leading to injuries.

Another reason is that kettlebells allow you to execute movements that you can’t do with other tools, such as barbells or dumbbells. You can use kettlebells while sitting, standing, or even lying down while your spine is in a neutral position. While it’s a big plus for kettlebell training, these unconventional positions may make you more likely to get out of proper form.

execute movements

And finally, kettlebell movements place too much pressure on specific body parts, like wrists or shoulders. While that’s true with all training equipment, it’s more with kettlebells. For example, you may experience more wear and tear on wrists or elbows with kettlebells. But it’s fixable by performing a compensatory movement or targeted stretching to remove the tension on these joints.

How to Minimize Kettlebell Dangers

As mentioned earlier, the risks that come with kettlebell training aren’t that different from other training tools. And you can avoid all these risks by maintaining proper form and learning all the moves correctly. Here’s what to consider:

Avoid Poor Form

Unless you learn to get the movement right, you set yourself up for injuries. Don’t do the following while swinging:

Moving with a rounded back. While you swing, make sure your back is straight, or you’ll end up hurting your lower back. You can prevent a rounded back by keeping your chest up.

Squatting. Just like a deadlift, a kettlebell swing requires you to hinge at the hips. Instead of squatting down, your butt should go back.

Moving your Upper Body

Kettlebell training should engage all your body as it’s a full-body movement. Beginners put too much pressure on their upper body, especially their arms, which is a bad mistake. And that’s one of the classic cases that lead to injury.

Don’t get the power for swinging from your arms. Instead, hinge your hips back and thrust forward to lift the kettlebells. Use your arms only to control the kettlebell and to move it in a specific direction.

Your trainer should instruct you on how to shift your focus from your upper to lower body.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIM6BTVyv90

Moving too Fast

You may make this mistake with any training tool but too much force while swinging can cause you to lose control. This way, you may end up pulling your muscles or getting injured. 

No matter how strong you are, going too fast will make you lose form and shift focus from large muscle groups. But by going slowly and in a more controlled way, you can target both large muscle groups and stability muscles.

stability muscles

Using a Heavy Kettlebell

Even if you feel you’re strong enough, start with light weights. Most people who choose kettlebells have experience working with other weights such as barbells and dumbbells. If they lift heavy dumbbells, they think they can use heavy kettlebells, too. But since these weights have different weight-distribution mechanisms, you can’t handle them the same.

If you’re not sure how heavy a kettlebell is enough for you, choose one that’s lighter than you think. This way, you can avoid injury and fatigue. The weight should be light enough to let you finish ten reps without losing form.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VW_fb7ruwdw

In Conclusion

Kettlebell dangers aren’t different from other training tools, such as barbells or dumbbells. You can strain specific joints or muscles, which is natural. Or, you could drop the kettlebell on your toes or other people at the gym. But these are rare and completely avoidable if you take things slowly and learn how to use a kettlebell properly.

Make sure to learn the moves from a certified trainer to take you step-by-step along the way. This way, you can benefit from all the advantages that kettlebells create, like muscle building, fat loss, and strength building.  

Last update on 2021-10-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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James Wright

James (36) has been working out since he was 15 years old. He has a home gym where he pumps iron, does bodyweight workouts and boxing. He likes sharing his experiences with others who want to build a better physique.

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