Functional Rehab of the Shoulder: The Kettle Bell

Functional strengthening and retraining of the body after an injury can be accomplished using the same equipment you find in most fitness studios. When dealing with shoulder injuries, we like to start to with these three simple movements using the kettlebell.

1.      Kettlebell Circle Hangs

The ability to differentiate scapular movement from overall shoulder movement is what differentiates high performing athletes from injury prone athletes. Increasing awareness of scapular movement is easily accomplished with Scapular Circle Hangs.

To perform: Start with light kettlebell in right hand, standing and bracing yourself on stable surface with left hand. Letting kettlebell hang and keeping arm straight, perform slow, controlled circles of your shoulder blade. Repeat for 30 seconds one direction followed by 30 seconds the other direction.

2.      Kettlebell Press Up Plus

 The serratus anterior is an important scapular stabilizer that is often left out of traditional fitness programming. The ‘Press Up Plus’ is a great exercise to strengthen the serratus anterior in order to improve scapular control and prevent winging.

To perform: Start lying on your back, shoulder flat against floor, balancing the kettlebell above handle with straight arm directly above shoulder. Keeping arms and elbows straight, press kettlebell up. Note: This is a very subtle move and not much movement is expected.

3.      Bottom’s Up Kettlebell Carries

Any shoulder rehabilitation program needs to begin with activation of the lesser used muscles of the posterior shoulder. The Inverted Kettlebell Carry is great ways to activate the rotator cuff in a truly functional manner.

To perform: Start standing, with shoulder and elbow bent to 90 degrees, holding the kettlebell handle. Balancing the kettlebell upside down (with bottom up), walk forward for a total of 100 m. Switch arms and repeat.