I love using kettlebells to improve shoulder stability. I have had some lingering pain in my right shoulder for several years now. I ignored it for the most part early on, however, I decided to get serious about it when my arm hurt so much that I couldn’t hold a coffee cup (priorities!) Since I started being “good” about doing my corrective exercises a few times a week and before I lift, I have had very little pain.  This is the basic progression I started off with and use with my patients to improve their shoulder stability/coordination.

Kettlebell “Suitcase” Hold or Carry

This is one of the easiest kettlebell exercises to perform. There is some emerging evidence that hand grip strength and shoulder stability are linked. You can read more about it here.

Kettlebell Suitcase Hold

Kettlebell Suitcase Hold

  1. Hold a kettlebell in one hand
  2. SQUEEZE the handle as hard as you can
  3. Hold for 10-45 seconds
  4. You can also walk around with the kettlebell. Make sure to hold your arm tightly to your body.

 

 

Supine Kettle Bell Arm-Bar

Supine Kettlebell Arm Bar

  1. Start on your right side and grab the handle of the kettlebell with your right hand.
  2. SQUEEZE the handle as hard as you can, making sure that your pinky is also involved.
  3. Roll onto your back and push the kettlebell toward the ceiling
  4. Make sure that your wrist is in neutral and not bent or extended
  5. Hold this position for 10-45 seconds
  6. Repeat 3-6x

 

 

 

Supine Kettlebell Arm Bar Bottom’s Up

Supine Kettlebell Arm Bar Bottom’s Up

  1. Start on your right side and grab the handle of the kettlebell with your right hand.
  2. SQUEEZE the handle as hard as you can, making sure that your pinky is also involved.
  3. Roll onto your back and push the kettlebell, with the bottom up,  toward the ceiling
  4. Make sure that your wrist is in neutral and not bent or extended
  5. Hold this position for 10-45 seconds
  6. Repeat 3-6x

 

 

 

 

Supine Kettlebell Arm Bar with a Twist

Now that you have the static postures down, try adding a rotation or “twist” of your arm. Make sure that the upper arm is moving and not just the lower arm. Your “elbow pit” should be moving. Follow the steps above to get the kettlebell into position. Then start to slowly rotate your arm bone in the shoulder socket while controlling the motion. This should be slow and with intent. Make sure to keep squeezing the handle. Once you have mastered this position, you can do it with the kettlebell’s bottom up. You can see the video below or watch it here on YouTube.

As always, these exercises are examples and are for educational purposes only. If you have shoulder pain, reach out to a great physical therapist or doctor in your area that can assess your individual situation.