One of the benefits of kettlebell training is using kettlebells to strengthen specific parts of your body in order to prevent injuries. Kettlebells are unique in that you can isolate specific muscles with them or entire sections of your body. Learning how to use kettlebells correctly is a great way to help prevent injuries to parts of the body by using kettlebells to focus on building specific muscle groups.
We are working with Dr. Eric St-Onge (Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook ) to create a series of blog posts about how you can use kettlebells to prevent common injuries and learn some anatomy at the same time. Dr. Eric St-Onge has a very unique background in that he has experienced sports injury, rehabbed, gone to school for chiropractic and now he helps other people rehab through his knowledge, experience and approach to care. In addition, what makes his contribution to our blog so great is that he is a Kettlebell Sport athlete so he can speak first hand to how the body interacts with kettlebell training and the specific movements to help prevent commons injuries.
What is especially fascinating about this series is the explanation of the anatomy of the different muscles involved, shown in the video below. We look forward to bringing you this series and teaching you about preventing injuries as well as learning some anatomy along the way.
Hamstring strains are one of the most common injuries in the athletic population. Having weaker hamstrings is shown to create higher risk for hamstring strains, so doing movements specifically to strengthen hamstrings is a great idea. Dr. St-Onge will be going over kettlebell movements designed to increase hamstring strength and therefore reduce injury.
Hamstring Muscle Anatomy
There are four main hamstring muscles, from inside to outside, semimembranosus, semitendinosus and biceps femoris (shown at 0:50 in video below). All of these muscle attach down to the shin bone. Three out of the four hamstring muscles work to extend the hip and flex the knee, while just one of the muscles only flexes the knee. The video below shows a detailed explanation of where each of the muscles are in the body.
Read More About The Movements To Strengthen the hamstrings below!
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The Romanian Deadlift
The Romanian Deadlift (shown at 1:40) utilizes a hip hinge which implies a hinge specifically with the hips and not the lower back, you should never feel anything in the lower back if performed correctly. Stay nice and stiff in your abs and legs. Keep a neutral spine which means maintain the natural position of your back, do not pull or push with your back. Knees slightly bent. You should feel tension only in your hamstring and nowhere else. Your starting position is with the bell held in both hands extended in front of you (shown at 2:36). Perform the hip hinge by pushing your bum back and letting the bell come down by controlling it with your hip hinge. Go down until you feel the stretch in your hamstrings and come back up. Keep the weight really close to your body on the way down and in between the middle of your feet. If you come to far forward it will put to much strain on your back and you want to strictly control this movement with your hip hinge (shown at 2:50).
You can also perform this as the Single Leg Romanian Deadlift (shown at 3:37) which involves the same premises as above but utilizes only one leg at a time while holding onto the kettlebell.
The movement that most people have seen from kettlebells is ideal for preventing hamstring injuries. This movement also really increases the activation of the hamstrings (shown at 4:53). The movement also focuses on the hip hinge. Use the force of your hip hinge to thrust the bell forward and then at the bottom of the swing when the bell is between your legs, you should feel tension on the hamstrings which is how you know you are activating them. You can read or watch a detailed explanation of the Kettlebell Swing here.
As previously mentioned, there are four different muscles in the hamstring. Depending on how you position your feet (shown at 5:20) you can work one hamstring muscles more than others. If you point your toes outward you will work the outside muscles more, whereas if you point forward the inside muscles will be activated. So you could actually choose which hamstring muscles to work.
Many thanks to Dr. Eric St-Onge for this great explanation, we look forward to working with him to bring you more great explanations of preventing injuries with kettlebells as well as anatomy. You can read more about Dr. St-Onge at his website: https://drericstonge.com/ and we highly recommend you follow him on social media where he frequently posts his own original content discussing similar topics. You can find him on Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.
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