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Preventing Injury in Overhead Athletes: Part 4

Pre-habilitation Exercises for Overhead Athletes

As a kettlebell coach whose number one goal is to keep her athletes healthy, I’m always looking to learn from other health and fitness experts that have ideas on the subject of injury prevention. Unfortunately, overuse injuries run rampant when people don’t properly prepare their bodies for the volume-heavy work in Kettlebell Sport, from a mobility and/or stability standpoint.

This is the fourth (and last!) in a series of posts where Doctor of Physical Therapy (and Team KOR kettlebell lifter!) Jordan Levine will share his favorite pre-habilitation exercises to build shoulder stability and avoid injury with overhead lifting. Whether you’re a coach or an athlete that uses kettlebells, these are great exercises you can implement to prevent overuse injuries before they happen.


Bottoms Up Screwdriver

  • Start lying on your back. With kettlebell in bottoms up position and thumb side of hand pointing up. Keep bottom of kettlebell pointing straight upward.
  • Begin by setting scapula gently down and back and keep in this position for entirety of exercise.
  • Use screw motion to internally rotate shoulder by rotating thumb inward, then externally rotate shoulder by rotating thumb outward.
  • Repeat for high reps (20 or more) until burn is felt or form begins to compromise. Start with light weight and make sure to rotate from whole arm (not solely forearm/wrist).
  • For an increased challenge, perform exercise lying on your side.
  • This exercise is a great for building stability of the ball and socket joint of the shoulder as well as strengthening rotator cuff muscles and scapula stabilizer muscles. Research has shown creating distal instability down the chain of the extremity (i.e. using a bottoms up kettlebell) leads to increased muscle activation.

Dr. Jordan Levine PT, DPT is a physical therapist at North County Water and Sports Therapy Center located in the Carmel Mountain Ranch area of San Diego. He specializes in orthopedics with a strong emphasis on manual therapy.

Click here to check out part 1 of the Preventing Injury in Overhead Athletes series.

Click here to check out part 2 of the Preventing Injury in Overhead Athletes series.

Click here to check out part 3 of the Preventing Injury in Overhead Athletes series.

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Preventing Injury in Overhead Athletes: Part 3

Pre-habilitation Exercises for Overhead Athletes

As a kettlebell coach whose number one goal is to keep her athletes healthy, I’m always looking to learn from other health and fitness experts that have ideas on the subject of injury prevention. Unfortunately, overuse injuries run rampant when people don’t properly prepare their bodies for the volume-heavy work in Kettlebell Sport, from a mobility and/or stability standpoint.

This is the third in a series of posts where Doctor of Physical Therapy (and Team KOR kettlebell lifter!) Jordan Levine will share his favorite pre-habilitation exercises to build shoulder stability and avoid injury with overhead lifting. Whether you’re a coach or an athlete that uses kettlebells, these are great exercises you can implement to prevent overuse injuries before they happen.


Serratus Anterior Wall Roll

  • Place foam roller horizontally against wall; slightly lower than shoulder height.
  • Weight bear wrists to mid forearms area against foam roller with body rigid and angled away from wall.
  • First engage abdominals; think about keeping ribcage down. Then protract scapulas (push blades apart), pushing elbows further into wall without straightening elbows.
  • Imagine you are pushing foam roller through the wall with elbows and then slowly roll upward while keeping that push through the wall. Stop when elbows reach about eye level or foam roller reaches elbows.
  • Keep that elbow push through the wall and roll foam roller back to start position with roller at wrist to mid forearm.
  • Repeat for high reps (20 or more) at slow pace.
  • You should feel the muscles in your armpit / rib area working as you push elbows upward.
  • The serratus anterior is a main contributor to outward scapula rotation along with upper and lower trap muscles. Outward rotation of the scapula must occur during overhead lifting to get full range of motion and to stabilize scapula so smaller muscles of shoulder do not get overworked (which can lead to injury over time).

Dr. Jordan Levine PT, DPT is a physical therapist at North County Water and Sports Therapy Center located in the Carmel Mountain Ranch area of San Diego. He specializes in orthopedics with a strong emphasis on manual therapy.

Click here to check out part 1 of the Preventing Injury in Overhead Athletes series.

Click here to check out part 2 of the Preventing Injury in Overhead Athletes series.

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Preventing Injury in Overhead Athletes: Part 2

Pre-habilitation Exercises for Overhead Athletes

As a kettlebell coach whose number one goal is to keep her athletes healthy, I’m always looking to learn from other health and fitness experts that have ideas on the subject of injury prevention. Unfortunately, overuse injuries run rampant when people don’t properly prepare their bodies for the volume-heavy work in Kettlebell Sport, from a mobility and/or stability standpoint.

This is the second in a series of posts where Doctor of Physical Therapy (and Team KOR kettlebell lifter!) Jordan Levine will share his favorite pre-habilitation exercises to build shoulder stability and avoid injury with overhead lifting. Whether you’re a coach or an athlete that uses kettlebells, these are great exercises you can implement to prevent overuse injuries before they happen.


Isometric Shoulder External Rotation with Mini Band

  • Place mini band loop around both wrists.
  • Flex elbows to 90 degrees and place against rib cage. Gently set scapulas down and back, then rotate hands away from one another to externally rotate both shoulders.
  • Keep equal tension on band while slowly elevating arms. Flex at shoulder until elbows are at shoulder height.
  • Keep tension on band while lowering elbows back to starting position.
  • Repeat for high reps (20 or more) at slow pace with light resistance.
  • This is a great rotator cuff exercise for building endurance and strength at end range external rotation, both of which are beneficial for repeated overhead lifting.
  • The mini band used in the above video can be found here, or you can hold resistance tubing in hands to replace the mini band.

Dr. Jordan Levine PT, DPT is a physical therapist at North County Water and Sports Therapy Center located in the Carmel Mountain Ranch area of San Diego. He specializes in orthopedics with a strong emphasis on manual therapy.

Click here to check out part 1 of the Preventing Injury in Overhead Athletes series.

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Preventing Injury in Overhead Athletes: Part 1

Pre-habilitation Exercises for Overhead Athletes

As a kettlebell coach whose number one goal is to keep her athletes healthy, I’m always looking to learn from other health and fitness experts that have ideas on the subject of injury prevention. Unfortunately, overuse injuries run rampant when people don’t properly prepare their bodies for the volume-heavy work in Kettlebell Sport, from a mobility and/or stability standpoint.

This is the first in a series of posts where Doctor of Physical Therapy (and Team KOR kettlebell lifter!) Jordan Levine will share his favorite pre-habilitation exercises to build shoulder stability and avoid injury with overhead lifting. Whether you’re a coach or an athlete that uses kettlebells, these are great exercises you can implement to prevent overuse injuries before they happen.


Y – T – W – L Scapular Retractions

  • Begin in one of two positions: 1) Lying prone on Swiss ball, or 2) Stand bent forward hinged at hips with neutral spine.
  • Keep abdominal muscles engaged and squeeze scapula down and together while simultaneously bringing arms up to spell Y, T, W, and L.
  • Perform with light or no weight and high reps, with a slow tempo to build stability. 2 sets of 10 reps of Y, T, W, and L is a good place is start.
  • Point thumbs toward the ceiling and do not allow scapula to elevate toward ears throughout the movement.
  • This exercise is intended to increase scapular stability and scapulohumeral rhythm by strengthening the middle and lower trapezius muscles. These muscles often get overpowered by dominant upper trapezius or rhomboids. To help bias the lower/middle trap muscles make sure to externally rotate the humerus by pointing the thumbs towards the ceiling and do not allow scapulas to elevate towards ears.

Dr. Jordan Levine PT, DPT is a physical therapist at North County Water and Sports Therapy Center located in the Carmel Mountain Ranch area of San Diego. He specializes in orthopedics with a strong emphasis on manual therapy.

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How to Master the Kettlebell Snatch

Reaching My Kettlebell Snatch Potential

Since working with my coach Denis Vasilev when he came in San Diego in October, I’ve changed up my Snatch technique. While I have been snatching kettlebells since 2011, I’ve always hit a road block when it comes to the 20kg bell and above. I’ve competed with 20kg and 24kg, and have never hit a number even close to what I believe my true potential is. While I have made many changes to my technique over the past five years, I think I’ve FINALLY made the changes that will allow me to reach my potential over the next couple years.
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The Importance of Relaxation

Efficiency and relaxation

The goal of Kettlebell Sport technique is to use gravity, weight shifting, breathing, and proper timing to move the kettlebells as efficiently as possible, so that you can complete as many repetitions as possible. In order to incorporate these four elements into your lifting, you must learn to relax – at the appropriate times. Continue reading

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My response to the IUKL’s “scientific study” on how kettlebell lifting affects the female body

Over the weekend, a response from IUKL secretary Vasily Ginko to several Scandinavian countries’ request for equal Kettlebell Sport lifting events for men and women was brought to light on Facebook.

In his response, Ginko cited a “scientific study” that claims all sorts of damage to the female body from doing kettlebell jerks and long cycle including breast cancer and “prolapse of the vaginal wall”.

Obviously, this post went viral, garnering comments from tons of outraged lifters. Additional insights came to light, including a post from Doug Seamans about how the IUKL and RGSF operate in Russia and how money comes into play on this issue.

Here’s my opinion on the kettlebell drama:

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Champions don’t make the best coaches

So you can talk, walk, run, and jump – but can you teach someone else how to do it?

If you’ve been doing something for so long that no conscious effort is required, it’s not always easy to remember what it felt like before you knew how to do it.

You don’t need to be a champion to be a great coach. Continue reading

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5 ways to “remain a student” in 2016

My main goal for 2015 was to qualify for and compete at the IUKL World Championships in Dublin, Ireland. In the last week of November, I found myself up on the platform next to two of the top female lifters in Kettlebell Sport, lifting a 24kg kettlebell – exactly where I wanted to be. While my performance fell short of my expectations – 87 repetitions instead of the 95+ I was hoping for – I’m grateful for the experience and excited to improve for my next competition.

In my opinion, the best coach/teacher always remains a student. Continue reading

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Highlights of the 2015 Kettlebell Sport World Championships

Highlights from the 2015 Kettlebell Sport World Championships (and my travel so far):

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Lifting on the platform next to top female Kettlebell Sport athletes Ksenia Dedukhina and Tatyana Potemkina. I did 87 repetitions and placed 4th out of 7 in the 63kg weight class.  Continue reading

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