Comprehensive Guide on Deadlift Bruises. How To Avoid Them!
April 7th 2019
Are deadlift bruises a sign of a good deadlift?
Should I be black and blue once in a while after a deadlift session?
Deadlift bruises should not be a common occurrence for any lifter.
They are a pain to deal with and manage, so making sure you develop proper form is always a plus.
There are methods to alleviate deadlift bruising like wearing long pants, deadlift socks, etc.
Bruises typically result from broken blood vessels leaking blood into the soft tissue under the skin.
Deadlifting bruises will be on the calluses on your hands, on your shins, and on the knees.
Most of it will be from the pressure exerted by the bar on the vulnerable areas, which cause blood vessels to break.
Bruises can cause swelling and pain along the bruise and may require that you stay off any strenuous exercise until they are fully healed.
Most will heal in between 10-14 days after the tears on your calluses, knees or shins are properly healed.
Causes of Shin Bruising
It is almost impossible not to get some shin bruising when you have been deadlifting for years.
Most of the time shin scraping against the shins is what causes the bruising.
If the bar is too close to the shins or the hips are too low, you will scrape and hit the shins while lifting.
You will also get shin bruising if you perform the deadlift with bars that come with aggressive knurling.
The bruising will be even worse if you are wearing shorts rather than pants since this exposes more skin.
While some advocate for lifting with the bar far away from the shins to prevent deadlifting bruises, this is not good for you.
It’s bad form to lift with the bar far away from the shin as it puts too much strain on the lower back, which may cause other more serious problems.
Further problems also include not being in a strong pulling position to lift heavy weights.
Causes of Knee Bruising
Just like with your shins, knee bruising occurs when you scrape the bar on the knees on the way up and down.
However, knee bruising is for the most part as a result of poor form and mechanics.
A lot of people that get knee bruises bend the knees too much, such that the bar hits and rolls over the knees on the way down, landing over the forefoot rather than the midfoot.
When the bar is too far (on the forefoot), lifting it will cause it to hit the shins causing even more bruising. Having the weight too far will also harm your lower back as the weight is far from your center of mass.
Causes of Torn Calluses
Another common injury when you are lifting is torn calluses.
Most beginners and even veterans who do not know better make the mistake of holding the bar mid-palm.
This causes the skin to fold under the bar when under pressure, which will result in the formation of calluses.
When you have too big calluses and lift weights, they may be pulled by the bar and get torn.
Torn calluses are painful and will take time to heal meaning you will not be deadlifting for up to two weeks at a time.
As such, it is important to prevent them from happening in the first place.
Also, keep in mind that you could also get bruises underneath your calluses.
This will be unbearably painful and you will immediately notice whether or not you can grip the bar.
This is usually caused by excessive trauma and heavy lifting, while not taking care of your hands and calluses.
Ways to Eliminate Shin and Knee Scraping on Deadlifts
There are several things you can do to eliminate or prevent shin and knee bruises that include:
1. Proper Form
This involves the following:
i) Bar over Mid-Foot
Have the bar is over the midfoot when you are lifting and not over the forefoot.
This will ensure that when you are lifting you will not be pulling in a J-curve, which is the cause of the bar hitting the chins.
Have the bar in the midfoot position, where it will not scrape the shins but will also not put too much pressure on the spine.
ii) Point Your Toes Out
Point your feet pointing out at a 15-degree angle, particularly if you are a tall person with long thighs.
With your knees out when pulling the weights, your shins should be further back.
This means they won’t be bruised as much.
iii) Don’t Squat the Deadlift
Squatting lowers your hips and inclines the shins, putting them in the way of the bar.
The best form is to raise your hips just above the knees if you can and with shoulder blades above the bar and the bar over the midfoot lift the weights.
2. Long Pants
Deadlifting while wearing shorts is never a good idea since it exposes your shins to bruising.
Since it is almost impossible to maintain good form without scraping the bar over the shins you need something to protect them.
One of the most effective ways to do this is by wearing long sweatpants, which will absorb much of the scraping by the bar as you lift.
3. Deadlift Socks
If you need more protection for your shins you can go for thick deadlift socks.
These are typically thick socks much like those worn by skiers or soccer players.
Since they are so thick, they will eliminate almost any kind of bruising except for the most severe bumps.
4. Deadlift on an Even Floor
To maintain good form, you need to do your deadlifts on an even floor.
Always find a flat floor surface and ensure the bar is over the midfoot before you lift and you should be fine.
Should You Use Shin Guards or Knee Sleeves
If you have not checked out my article about shins bleeding during the deadlift, I have addressed similar concerns.
Shin guards could protect your shins from bruising but in all fairness, shin guards are a bit of an overkill for deadlifts since you will likely not be doing too many reps.
In fact, shin guards may even cause bad form as they remove any feedback from deadlifting.
This means you will continue lifting with bad form rather than fixing it.
With proper form and lifting technique, you really do not need shin guards.
Knee sleeves are also superfluous and will more often than not interfere with your deadlifts even if they reduce bruising.
They tend to create bumps, which catch the bar on its way up slowing down your lifts.
How to Prevent Knee Bruising
One of the most effective ways of preventing bruises is to ensure that your knees are out of the way of the bar.
Knees typically get bruises when you are lowering the bar and hence this is the time when you need to be more careful.
Move the hips back and keep the knees back so that they are not in the way of the bar.
The bar can then move lower in a straight line.
Once the bar is at the knees you should further bend your knees back as you lower the weights down to the floor.
Ensure the bar is on the midfoot so that it will be easier to lift it up again in good form for the next rep.
How to Prevent Torn Calluses
The following are some of the best ways to keep your calluses from getting torn when you do your deadlifts:
1) Get a low Grip on the Bar
The bar should always below in the palm just on top of the calluses and close to the fingers.
This ensures that the skin will not fold since your grip will be below the main skin folds under the bar.
While the grip can be a bit discomfiting at first, it is effective and you should get used to it over time.
2) Use Chalk
Get some magnesium carbonate and apply it on the hands, which will fill up the folds of the skin thus making for smoother palms.
This will prevent the bar from tearing up the calluses.
3) Shave the Calluses
Big calluses get trapped between the bar and are torn when you do deadlifts.
Shave off the calluses using a pumice stone so that they are level with the rest of the hands to prevent them from getting caught under the bar.
4) Athletic Tape
Use athletic tape for several workouts until your calluses are completely healed if you got hurt while doing deadlifts.
How to Take Care of Your Bruises
Well, you have a bruise or several bruises.
Can you continue to deadlift?
The first step to consider is that you need to stop bruising yourself.
Avoid getting more bruises which will only cause you more discomfort and pain.
Avoid lifting weights you cannot control, which may cause you to bump into your knees and shins.
Then, you need to make sure you are lifting with proper form.
Trying to maintain a vertical shin will help solve your problem a lot faster than trying to buy a product to help cover up your bruises.
But for the time being, using deadlift socks and long pants are two great ways to mitigate any scrapes and bumps.
Ice, heat, compression, and creams are also several remedies in order to cope with any bruising pains.
No one likes bruises so it is best if we try to get rid of them.