Q: What do you think about using kettlebell swings as a warmup for the lower back? I’ve had an issue with back pain in the past—I’m fine now, but concerned.
A: You can also use a dumbbell for the exercise, but you have to be careful. The momentum that builds up here enables you to stretch farther than you could otherwise—often stretching ligaments. It’s not that performing the exercise will immediately cause an injury, but it’s like a cavity in that the effects progressively worsen over time.
As you’ve had back pain before, safer alternatives to kettlebell swings would be back extensions or reverse hypers, as those exercises have been shown to put minimum compressive forces on the spine. Just be careful not to hyperextend your lower back by lifting your torso—or in the case of the reverse hyper, the legs—so high that the lower back goes into hyperextension.