Category Archives: Injury

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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Hand Care for Kettlebell Lifters

As we all know, kettlebell lifting can wreak havoc on your hands. I, for one, often feel self-conscious giving people a high five because of the blood blisters, callouses, or giant patches of dry skin on my hands. In some gym cultures, ripping your hand is a glorified battle wound that shows you gave your all in a workout. In the kettlebell world, ripping your hand totally sucks because it means your technique was off and/or you might not be able to train tomorrow.

Even if you don’t particularly care what your hands look like, there are several factors to keep in mind if you want to lift consistently without tearing up your hands.

How Do You Prevent a Hand Tear?

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Why Injuries are a Blessing in Disguise

As you may have read in my recent “I’m a hypocrite” article, I sustained an injury to my ribcage cartilage at the end of April that took me out of my Kettlebell Sport training for over a month.

I’m a strong believer in the power of positive thinking, so I’m choosing to see my injury as an opportunity to learn instead of mulling over the time I’ve lost working towards my goals in Kettlebell Sport. In other words, I’ve decided to view my injury as a “blessing in disguise”.

Here are the lessons I’m taking from my injury:

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Overcoming amputation to become a World Champion in Kettlebell Sport: Christian Einarsen

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Christian Einarsen competing in 24kg Biathlon at the IUKL Kettlebell Sport World Championships in Dublin, Ireland in 2015.

Where do you live and what do you do for work?
I live in a small town called Søgne just outside Kristiansand in the southern part of Norway. I work offshore for Maersk drilling.

What is your athletic background?
My previous athletic background is as close to nonexistent as it gets. Except for playing soccer in elementary school, sports never interested me.

What happened to your right hand and how did that accident change your life?
In January 2009, I did a routine test of our emergency generator onboard which is cooled by a radiator and a fan (just like your car is). During the test run my hand came in contact with the radiator fan which was 2 meter in diameter and made of steel. I was evacuated to Stavanger and finally to Oslo where the surgeons decided they could not reattach any of my fingers. Continue reading

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Return to KB Sport Series #3: Will Metcalf

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Photo by Steve Burroughs.

I discovered Kettlebell Sport in 2008. My first competition was in 2009, where I competed in OALC… HAH then it all went down hill from there so to speak! I spent the next year and a half chasing my tail in terms of what to do with my lifting, but falling deeper in love with the sport. I remember at the Arnold Classic in 2010 I lifted 32kg for the Strong Sport event. I did 16 reps a side for four minutes –  and I thought I was hardcore. Then I saw Marty Farrell doing things I couldn’t imagine with 2x32kg. That was it – it was game time!   Continue reading

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Return to KB Sport Series #2: Emily Doenlen

My first competition was after just a few months of training in November of 2013. I competed with the 12kg and got 103 reps. In December I competed again with the same weight and got around 130 reps. After that, I figured I was ready to move up in bell weight and started transitioning up to the 16kg. I decided that the Cali Open in February 2014 would be my next goal.

Ten seconds before the completion of my 10-minute set of One Arm Long Cycle with the 16kg bell, I broke my arm. Continue reading

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