This post, all about my old friend the kettlebell. A bit of back history, a girl I had in classes has a husband who is a personal trainer. I demonstrated KB swings, snatches, cleans and presses, TGU’s, and stuff a while back. Apparently her hubby (who has never as far as I understand picked up a KB) feels that kettlebells are dangerous, particularly the snatch because of the “risk” of hyperextension.
So, here I am to say that a kettlebell snatch is safe and quite unlikely to cause hyperextension. In fact, in my half hour internet search I couldn’t find one documented (or even commented in passing) case of hyperextension of the shoulder with a snatch. My classmates husband decided he didn’t like them because of a description she gave of the KB snatch. A mere description of an exercise is really not a good way to decide safety. As a former physical therapist assistant myself, I’m a tad disappointed that a person would decide KB snatches are unsafe without any research of a quite well versed exercise. The KB snatch has been around for centuries. I think it’s going on it’s three hundredth year. If they were so very unsafe, I think by now we’d have a quite a bit of evidence to prove that.
Why is a snatch safe? Well, any exercise can be unsafe, just use weight that’s too heavy for you to control (like a guy who did an overhead press with a barbell, dropped it on himself and snapped his upper arm in half). The kettlebell snatch doesn’t pose much risk of breaking the humerus in the arm. If a person can’t control the bell, the best thing to do is let go of the handle. Unlike other weights, because of the swinging motion, it’s unlikely to drop down onto your arm if you let go.
In fact, I accidentally let go once and it flew about 8 ft then bounced off a wall and landed on my tiled floor. Being made of iron, yes it did break the tile. But I was unhurt :).
With the snatch, if the arm were to start to hyperextend letting go is option one. But the chance of hyperextension is nearly non existent in my mind. First of all, when swinging the bell up to snatch it, there is a slight bend in the elbow at the top of the arc. Hard to hyperextend the shoulder when the upper arm is not more than perpendicular to the body. That’s only 90 degree’s of 180 degrees of normal extension. Once the upper arm is about perpendicular to the body, instead of continuing the swing, the arm shoots upward as if punching toward the ceiling. Again hard to hyperextend when the arm is shooting upward and not arcing backward.
So, in closing, the kettlebell snatch doesn’t pose much (if any) risk of hyperextension. So, snatch away