Articles & Resources

A Kettlebell Approach To Integrated Rehabilitation : Part I by Eric Gahan

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Aug 3, 2011 7:40:00 AM

by Eric Gahan, MS, ATC, CSCS, RKC

Rehabilitation of the athlete consistently challenges athletic trainers to expand to new and exciting rehabilitation techniques.  It is widely accepted in the athletic training community that an integrated approach to rehabilitation is what gives the modern athlete the strength and coordination to have a safe return to sport, and quite possibly a preventative approach to future injury.
An integrated approach examines the incorporation of core strength with both upper and lower extremity rehabilitation.  Incorporating movements into rehabilitation that challenge the area of pathology with areas that are healthy and strong.

Integration of kettlebells is a dynamic functional rehabilitative way to help to maintain mobility, build stability, and build strength in your patient population.  Mobility is defined as the ability to move freely and easily.  Stability is defined as not likely to change or fail.  In our world of rehabilitation this means the ability to withstand a potential force and finally the definition of strength meaning physical power or energy.  With the integration of ketttlebells we can get all three for the price of one.

Kettlebell Dead-Lift:

Begin with the use of the kettlebell dead-lift.  This movement is the foundation of the kettlbell swing.  It all starts with the hips.  This movement helps to pattern the hip hinge in patients to help protect their back.  Saving patients back from stresses should be on every clinicians mind.  Second is the grip on the handle of the kettlebell.  With a tight grip this activates the inner and outer core and also activates the rotator cuff of the shoulder and finally the latissimus dorsi in the back.  This basic strength movement can help pattern mobility and stability in all basketball athletes.  It can help to build strength and stability while down low in the post while the big men are battling for that last second rebound to win the game.  Can you ask for any more of an integrated exercise?  Why yes you can, please keep reading!

Video of KB Deadlift (front view)

Video of KB Deadlift (side view)


2 Hand Kettlebell Swing:

Now that you have patterned the movement of the kettlebell dead-lift, move on to the kettlebell swing.  The kettlebell swing incorporates several aspect of the rehabilitation for your patient.  First, your patient worked so hard on the glute bridge in the beginning stages of your rehabilitation, activation of the glute complex to decrease activation in the hamstring musculature. The patient then turned prone and worked on building that prone plank.  You had that patient performing prone planks for a minute or even more.  The core was on, the latissimus dorsi engaged.  Little did you know you were already helping to build stability and strength for your patient to perform the kettlebell swing.  The kettlebell swing is your answer to a dynamic functional glute bridge and plank with activation of the latissimus dorsi.  We all know through reading the literature posted here on BSMPG and through Stuart McGill that the latissimus has an active role in core stability.

The Kettlebell swing = Hip hinge and glute bridge + plank + latissimus dorsi activation in a dynamic functional movement pattern.  The kettlebell swing is also a wonderful tool to build on metabolic training.  At times the basketball athletes can raise the heart rate to 70-80% of max heart rate while reaching the final seconds of a minute of continuous 2 Hand swings.  This can help to pattern the ability of the athlete to transition on the court.  It can also help to train them in maintaining perfect form while under the demands of stress.

Video of Kettlebell Swing (front view)

Video of Kettlebell Swing (side view)

Begin to work these kettlebell movement patterns into your training program for all your basketball athletes and begin to see the huge benefits that can be gained from working with this tool. 

Topics: Health & Wellness, Eric Gahan