Help Alleviate Back Pain with a Quick Kettlebell Workout

October 30, 2020

Clinical Contributors to this Story

Patrick Roth, M.D. contributes to topics such as Neurosurgery.

By: Katie Woehnker

Whether you’re back in the office or working from home, if your profession has you seated for majority of the day, you may be one of the approximately 31 million Americans who are dealing with back pain.

“We are advised to get up, stretch and walk around to counter excess sitting while working. While this is sound advice, my years as a neurosurgeon – and back pain sufferer – have shown me there may be more you can do,” advises Patrick Roth, M.D., board-certified neurosurgeon and chairman, Division of Neurosurgery at Hackensack University Medical Center.

Dr. Roth’s secret is focusing on building up strength and flexibility. One way he does this is by keeping a kettlebell under his desk and performing kettlebell swings for one minute each hour. Want to join him? Here’s how:

How to do a Kettlebell Swing*

“One small kettlebell under a desk or in your office can provide time-effective back and hamstring strengthening, along with hip-flexor stretching,” shares Dr. Roth. “Start with a low weight that’s comfortable for you – women may want to start with a weight around 10 lbs., and 20 lbs. for men.”

Please note, if your back is already injured or in spasm, you need to allow time to heal before starting this exercise. Starting this exercise before your body is healed will cause more pain and injury.

*Always consult your physician before beginning a new exercise program.

Negative Health Effects of Extensive Sitting

Sitting for extended periods of time has been linked to various health effects including increased blood pressure, increased cholesterol levels, excess body fat around the waist and high blood sugar.

Too much sitting can cause weak gluteal muscle and tight iliopsoas muscles. Since the gluteal muscles are located posteriorly and the psoas muscles are located in the front of the body, the weakening of one and tightening of the other naturally creates an imbalance.

“This imbalance can put too much stress on the back, resulting in back pain,” shares Dr. Roth.

Health Benefits of Kettlebell Swings

In addition to helping build strength and flexibility, kettlebell swings are a cardiovascular-stimulating, calorie-burning exercise. One minute of swings can burn 20 calories. If done each hour, this minute of swings can counterbalance the 20 calories per hour not burned while sitting (as compared to a non-sedentary job).

“Incorporating kettlebell swings into your workday is a fast, efficient and inexpensive way to mitigate the adverse health effects of your desk job,” Dr. Roth concludes.

Next Steps & Resources:

Study on Health Hazards of Sitting Too Much

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.