Kettlebells might be named for their resemblance to a kettle, but they have nothing to do with cooking. They do, however, have a whole lot to do with helping you sculpt a strong, lean body. These free weights encourage you to move muscle groups through a full range of motion. Some people even use them when they are injured as an alternative to traditional weights. However, improper use, overuse and untreated injuries can cause shoulder pain when you work out with kettlebells. Eliminate the "ouch" factor by adopting a few precautions.
Kettlebells keep your muscles moving, which can help you avoid cramps. Because kettlebells work large groups of muscles, they can also help you avoid overuse injuries and muscular imbalances. But improper use poses serious dangers. Among novice kettlebell users, it's common to swing the kettlebell upward and then allow the kettlebell to pull itself back down. This can cause severe muscle pain and even injuries. Instead, use your muscles to swing the kettlebell through the full motion rather than relying on gravity. Using kettlebells that are too large, particularly if you're a novice, can also cause pain.
Injuries and Arthritis
If you have a pre-existing shoulder injury, consult your doctor before using kettlebells. You may exacerbate the injury with exercises that irritate the injured area. In some cases, kettlebells can cause injuries such as bursitis -- an inflammation in the bursae that hep lubricate your bones, muscles and tendons -- and rotator cuff injuries. If you have rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, some kettlebell exercises may exacerbate your condition, so chat with your doctor before starting a new routine.
Delayed Onset Soreness
Delayed onset muscle soreness is low-grade pain that occurs begins 12 to 24 hours after exercise and can last several days. It feels like your muscles are stretched or overextended and is common when beginning a new exercise routine. If you experience DOMA, stretch but don't exercise again until the soreness eases up. Regular exercise can help you avoid the pain of delayed muscle soreness.
Myofascial Trigger Points
Myofascial trigger points are knots in your muscles that can cause pain radiating outward. Commonly caused by a sedentary lifestyle, overuse, chronic injuries and improper posture can also contribute to their development. If you feel knots in your shoulders, massage the knots moving in one direction only. The massage should hurt, but should not be excruciating, and can help to loosen knots and alleviate pain.
- American College of Sports Medicine: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
- Dynamic Chiropractic: Russian Kettlebell Swings for Injury Rehab
- MayoClinic.com: Bursitis
- Sports Injury Clinic: Rotator Cuff Injury/Rotator Cuff Tear
- Perform Better: Shoulder Pain and Weight Training
- The Ultimate Kettlebell Workbook; Dave Randolph
- The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook; Clair Davies et al.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.