For Back Pain, Try A Kettlebell Workout

Kettlebells, known as “girya” in their native Russia, are basically cannonballs with handles attached to them, and they’ve been used as long as anyone can remember to train Russian athletes. Now researchers in Denmark have found something else they’re good for: pumping up core muscles so well that back pain is significantly reduced. The New York Times reports on the Danish study, in which 40 middle-aged women with back and shoulder pain were randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group trained with kettlebells in 20-minute sessions two to three times a week for eight weeks. The other group was told to exercise, period. The Times reports that the kettlebell group reported less pain and improved strength in the trunk and core muscles, compared with the control group. In fact, the researchers found that the kettlebell workout reduced lower back pain by 57 percent and cut neck and shoulder pain by 46 percent. How did it do that? The researchers noted that Kettlebell workouts strengthen the posterior muscle chain, and the increase blood flow to the back and leg muscles, which may reduce the buildup of lactic acid, and consequently, reduce pain.


  1. Sounds like a good way to get back pain to me … when exercising with kettlebells you need a lot of guidance at the start to get it right. Don’t just wander into the gym and start throwing them around on your own.

  2. Richard Blair

    Expanding on Scott’s reply, I don’t doubt the benefits of a well structured and instructed kettle-bell program. Comparing the results of kettle-bell exercise to “just exercise” as cited in The Time report is plain nonsense. A “just exercise” directive is almost always the perfect prescription for discomfort, injury and disappointment.

  3. Ridiculous. Why should using kettlebells be better than dumbbells or anything else? The article doesn’t even attempt an explanation.

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