A concerned kettlebell athlete pre-empted my release of #2 of the Top 5 Mobility Drills for Kettlebell Lifters over on the private access forum for kettlebell members of the American Kettlebell Club:
“Over the last month my jerk has taken off (2-16kg for 4:00 to 2-24kg for 7:00) as I learn to relax my hands and let the handle sit on the “hip.” However, the hip of my left hand has been persistently and annoyingly painful, and I compensate for the pain by turning the hand out too far in the lockout. (Same problem late in my left-hand snatches.) It’s irritating but bearable with the 24s, but acute and intolerable with the 32.
So here’s my question:
What’s the most productive way to deal with this hand-hip pain? Lay off the overhead stuff for a day or two to let the pain go away so I don’t ingrain bad form? Or tough my way through it while the tissue adapts?”
When I hear kettlebell athletes experiencing pain in this region, I have found that they sometimes are misunderstand the translation of Valery’s technique. It happened to me too, and since my connective tissue has a tendency to rip easier than most people due to my childhood joint disease, I had to study Valery’s performances, meticulously training my mental stamina to look for the minutia for those 10 minute performances of his.
If you notice what Valery’s doing from the first rep to the last with his hands, it isn’t resting on the hip of the hand (the pisiform and triquetrum bones) so much as resting against it.
In other words, the kettlebell handle isn’t pressing down on the palm toward the ground. The handle is cornered against the “hip” of the hand, so it would be pulling outward from your rack IF it were not for the fact that with Valery’s technique the belly of the kettlebell then rests in the “V” of your flexed arm. With your elbow stabbed into your hip’s iliac crest, the weight of the kettlebell is carried by the legs, rather than a hook grip.
I think it’s a conceptual leap, because for so long in the West we “hook grip” equipment like dumbbells and barbells, that we’ve imposed that technique inappropriately on kettlebells.
We vacillate between extending our wrists and resting the handle on the “hip” or slip it appropriately into hip-grip, but then take the belly of the kettlebell off of the “V” of our flexed arm rack (due to a variety of limited mobility reasons I propose in my blog articles on kettlebell assistance drills.) Back and forth we flip without nailing both nuances simultaneously: either fatiguing the forearm flexors, or the internal rotators.
One drill that I have found works nearly all the time is to extend your fingers without holding the handle at all, and just letting it rest in the “ox jaw” of your thumb and forefinger. Imagine this is like a boxing guard but without making fists. If your elbows are in and your palms are facing each other, and the belly of the kettlebells are resting on the “V” with your elbow stab into your iliac crest of your hip, then the handle should be resting “against” the hand’s hip rather than on it.
The following video will describe both the exercise and the drills to help from painful compression of the wrist which results from hook gripping the kettlebell. The drills will help open up the range necessary to make this effortless (so that you can expend your effort on hoisting bells rather than the internal resistance against the technique which all struggle to adapt to initially.)
For those who are interested in catapulting your kettlebell business, or health clubs interested in equipping their staff with trainers who can help the wide audience of people interested in fitness while using tools such as kettlebells, then register now before we’re SOLD OUT! I’m co-presenting the Kettlebell Fitness Instructor Certification in New York City and Switzerland with scheduled events coming in San Diego and Canada.
If you want to jump ahead of the competition, or if you want to prepare for my seminar in advance, then get started with the original, the best and the most comprehensive mobility wellness program: my signature Intu-Flow® Longevity System.