The Best Kettlebell Rehab Exercises

The Best Kettlebell Rehab Exercises

The kettlebell is a fantastic training tool for athletes and the general population to build strength, stability, coordination, conditioning, and sports performance. It is also one of the most under-valued pieces of equipment used by physical therapists and chiropractors in the rehabilitation of injuries. Although I’m known as “The Barbell Physio”, I have to admit I use kettlebells more in the clinic than I do barbells. I’m thankful to Dr. James Spencer for co-writting this article with me on the best kettlebell rehab exercises.

Essential Strength Equipment for the Modern Physical Therapy Practice

Strength equipment for the modern physical therapy practice

With physical therapists promoting ourselves as the “movement specialists” it is crucial that we understand how to progressively load our patients in a functional approach. Therapeutic exercise is such a foundational aspect but often results in under loading of patients because typically the heaviest piece of equipment in the gym is elastic tubing and light dumbbells. In the following you will find the Top 10 pieces of strength equipment for the modern PT practice and examples of exercise selection based on clinical reasoning.

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Turkish Get Up (TGU)

The Turkish Get up can be a self limiting bodyweight movement or challenged with a heavy ass kettlebell. The TGU can be used as an evaluation and an exercise. There are 7 major steps in the TGU and each step could be used as a rehab movement. One of the keys is keeping the eyes focused on the kettlebell. Reposition the kettlebell and your base points as needed to make it a safe movement and stable environment. There is a litany of benefits to this tri-planar movement that allows for rehab practitioners as well as strength coaches to program this exercise for their clients and athletes.

Bottom Up Press

The bottom up press increases the instability of the kettlebell press, making it a great variation to add a little spice to shoulder rehab and training. This will really point out side-to-side weakness in an athlete’s strength as well. For those rehabbing from shoulder injuries, the bottoms up position means less overall weight can be lifted and this variation can often be used earlier in rehab.

1/2 Kneeling Bottoms Up KB Press…. The Bottom Up KB Press creates Irradiation through the entire body for full body stability. Check your ego at the door with the weight of the KB and Focus on Form!! #unconventionalrehab #unconventionaltraining #kettlebells #bottomsup #kbpress #1/2kneeling #certifiedfunctionalstrengthcoach #hi #in4mation #pickupputdown #hipstability #clinicalathlete #clinicalathleteprovider #thecrossfitsquad #crossfit #surfing #paddleboarding #snowboarding #wakeboarding #skateboarding @cleversurfboards @clinicalathlete @cliffydeez @paddleboarder_com @db_cfsquad @movementasmedicine @certifiedfsc @in4mation_ @lacie_flynn @perform_better @functionalmvmt @kettlebellexercises @kettlebeast @kettlebellcenter @kevinlarrabee @ridethetides @radrollerteam @themovementfix @officiallairdhamilton @primalfitmiami @thecrossfitsquad @theptdc @the

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Goblet Squats

The goblet squat moves the center of gravity forward, which allows the individual to more easily sit back in the squat. This often clears squat dysfunctions up rapidly and the goblet squat should be part of EVERY rehab professional’s arsenal of tools. The goblet squat is also a less intimidating way to build strength throughout the body in those that would be nervous loading with a barbell.

 

Kettlebell Deadlifts

Like the goblet squat, these provide a less intimidating way to load a fundamental movement pattern. Another great advantage of the kettlebell deadlift of the barbell version, is the increased ease of raising the kettlebell by placing on one box (versus needing two for deadlifts and hoping the bar doesn’t roll off if you don’t have specialized boxes…yes I’ve seen that happen a few times!). This allows the clinician easily individualize the range of motion requirements to help train the movement pattern through each patient’s available mobility.

 

Bottoms Up Rhythmic Stabilizations

Rhythmic stabilizations are a great way to train proprioception and stability in rehab. Add in a bottoms up kettlebell to further challenge this technique results in a killer rehab move. Perform supine, in standing with the arm overhead, with eyes closed, or as shown below.

 

Sidelying KB Arm Bar

The kettlebell arm bar is a highly underappreciated movement. The roll while maintaining the vertical arm accomplishes two important tasks. First, the entire shoulder girdle must remain active to control and stabilize the weight. Second, as the athlete rotates his or her thoracic spine, the weight provides overpressure into thoracic rotation, making it a great mobility movement as well.

 

KB Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats (RFESS)

The RFESS position allows rehab clinicians and strength coaches to develop single leg strength in a safe and controlled manner. There are plenty of regressions and progressions to this exercise to challenge more posture, proprioception and strength. This is a great bodyweight movement for desk jockeys to combat their everyday poor posture. Adding the kettlebells to this movement really challenges shoulder, trunk and hip stability with walloping amounts of proprioception to the foot, ankle, knee and hip.

 

TST (The Space Trainer) Bridge with KB Press

This exercise requires an incredible amount of anterior and posterior chain activation. The TST requires massive amounts of Tri-Planar Hip Stability with hip extension, external rotation and abduction. This activation only magnifies the posterior chain engagement for full body stability. The Single Arm KB Press is a great addition to confront anti-rotation and anterior chain activation. This exercise is a great bang for its buck to teach some clients and athletes full body irradiation.

TST (The Space Trainer) Bridge with KB Press: This exercise requires an incredible amount of anterior and posterior chain activation. The @thespacetrainer requires massive amounts of Tri-Planar Hip Stability with hip extension, external rotation and abduction. This activation only magnifies the posterior chain engagement for full body stability. The Single Arm KB Press is a great addition to confront anti-rotation and anterior chain activation. This exercise is a great bang for its buck to teach some clients and athletes full body irradiation. #tst #thespacetrainer #triplanar #stability #diaphragmaticbreathing #anteriorchain #posteriorchain #antirotation #kettlebell #kbpress #glutes #antilowbackpain #breathe #clinicalathlete @clinicalathlete @cliffydeez @movementasmedicine @primalfitmiami @thecrossfitsquad @stopchasingpain @drjohnrusin @thebarbellphysio @kevinlarrabee @kettlebellexercises @kettlebellcenter @kettlebellfever @kettlebeast @timferriss

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Half Kneeling KB Halos

The ½ Kneeling Position is a fundamental movement position acknowledged by Rehab Gurus and Strength Coaches throughout the World. This position will expose poor posture and limitations in the ankles, hips and core. The Key to the ½ Kneeling Position is to centrate the femur in to the socket and not rely on the ligaments of the hip for stability. This position can really challenge hip and core stability with a shorter lever arm(Femur) which will only help to active your glutes for hip extension. This allows for good upright posture with good diaphragmatic(belly) breathing to help increase overall pillar stability. The Biggest Benefit from the ½ Kneeling Position with KB Halos is that it requires reflexive or reactive stability throughout the entire body.

 

Turducken Get Up

So after doing some research on the “Turducken Get Up,” I think I owe the respect to Dean Somerset for coining the term. This movement is a pretty badass alternative to the Turkish Get Up. I have to quote the man himself, “For the Turducken Get Up, it involves a lot of core stability, thoracic and hip mobility, shoulder stability, timing, patience, voodoo, and a few other magical ingredients.” –Dean Somerset

 

This article was co-written with Dr. James Spencer – I am a Sports Performance Chiropractor, a Certified Athletic Trainer, and a Fellow of the International Academy of Medical Acupuncture. I am originally from Sarasota, Florida but work in South Florida. Each individual encounter or training session allows me to positively impact my client, and for that, I am excited to be able to share my passion with others. My physical background includes kettlebells, indian clubs, steel clubs, maces, juggling, skateboarding, surfing, wakeskating, paddleboarding, slacklining, climbing trees and enjoying life in South Florida. I have written multiple guest blogs for John Rusin Fitness Systems. My formal training is in: Active Release Techniques (ART) Graston Technique, Kinetacore Functional Dry Needling, SpiderTech Kinesiology Tape, RockTape Fascial Movement Taping (FMT), Postural Restoration Institute (PRI), Y-Balance Test (YBT), Functional Movement Screen (FMS), Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA), Mike Boyle’s Certified Functional Strength Coach (CFSC)and the Onnit Academy of Unconventional Training.

Be sure to visit DrJamesSpencer.com

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