Training

Stop Your Shins From Crying (Bleeding)? A Must Read Guide.

March 21st 2019

Why do my shins bleed when I deadlift?

Although common deadlift advice tells you to stand with your shins touching the bar, your shins are too close to the knurling. You are dragging the bar against your shins, which is causing the bleeding. There are many remedies for this issue, some of which include wearing sweats, using duct tape, high socks or having better form.

Should the bar touch your shins when you deadlift?

Yes and no. You have probably seen some deadlifters on Youtube that have their shins right against the deadlift. I know when I was in college, there was an elite lifter teaching gym newbies on how to deadlift properly. He instructed them to have their shins right against the bar. Is this the right way to deadlift? For some, yes.

If you have seen my progression to a 405lbs deadlift, you will notice that I learned my deadlift technique from Richard Hawthorne. To me, his deadlift form is ideal. For him, he keeps the bar around his mid-foot. I also discussed the various deadlift forms here, where I advocate having a static starting position instead of rolling the bar before you deadlift.

For me, I have no issues getting my shins vertical and having a good starting position when the bar is in my mid-foot. But some people have issues with that. Does that make this form wrong? No, it just means you need to try something else.

The whole purpose of bar placement with respect to your feet is to keep your shins vertical and your shoulders in-line with the bar. For beginner lifters, they will often have the tendency to lean forward into the balls of their feet. This is because of the newer advances in footwear, where the cushion slightly elevates our heel. This may have its benefits but it is not good for the deadlift.

In the deadlift, you want your feet to be as flat as possible. And all novice lifters, remembering to not lean forward during a deadlift is tough especially if you have not lifted weights before. The weight will feel as if it is pulling you forward and you have no control of the weight. I feel for you.

This is one reason why some coaches and veteran lifters will tell you to keep your shins right up against the bar. If your shins are against the bar, your feet are flat and you will know if you are leaning forward if your shins push the bar away. It is an excellent indicator and a great cue to use.

What is the final conclusion? Well, it really depends. You need to try out both forms and see what works best for you. If you are a newer lifter, I would recommend you check out the videos I linked on my articles above about Richard Hawthorne’s deadlift mechanics. They are phenomenal and it really makes a difference once you understand and apply the knowledge whereas you just blindly follow something without thinking about it.

Why should I protect my shins in deadlifting?

“No Pain, No Gain!” If you sustained a couple of bloodied shins, you may think twice. It is an unnecessary hassle that can be avoided.

I am confident that nobody likes to be in physical pain and if avoided, that would be an ideal situation. Having scabs and redness on your shins is just a major pain in the butt.

Depending on your skin sensitivity, you can decide for yourself whether or not you want to protect your shins. My shins are paper-thin so I will get bloodied easily. For others, their skin is tough so this issue may not even be present in their mind.

Are you getting deadlift socks?

If you do decide to deadlift with your shins against the bar, it would be a good investment to get a pair of deadlift socks. But to be frank, you can probably use any sock that goes over your shins. You can get 2 pairs of multi-purpose socks that come up to your knees here.

Would deadlift socks help more? They probably could. I did some research about whether or not lifters found deadlift socks useful. So far, the reviews look positive and they seem to help the lifter avoid bloody shins from deadlifting. If it works, why change it?

There could also be a style and aesthetics component to getting deadlift socks as well. You are a part of a community now, of lifting and good health. Your socks will represent you. I get that. With these benefits, your deadlift socks will also be a bit more pricey, which is understandable. Manufacturers need to charge more for designing and creating awesome patterns. Here is an example of a neat design for a deadlift sock.

Bruising and Scratches through my deadlift socks

There will be a small percentage of lifters that will suffer these symptoms. You really love to drive the bar into your shins, don’t you?

There is still another alternative! You could try using deadlift shin guards, which will probably do the trick. For some gym-goers, this is the go-to option.

However, for most deadlifters, you may not need to be this extreme. You just need some socks and to critique your deadlift form. Understand your biomechanics and why you are still scrapping your shins. It is not a normal thing to do and evaluating your form is the best thing to do here.

Deadlifting In Long Pants

This is another cheap alternative you could do. It is perfectly normal and understandable if you need to change into your long pants before doing a deadlift workout. You may get a couple of chuckles from here and there. Ignore them.

You are trying to protect your shins. You are trying to be comfortable as well. Get your favorite pair of sweats and get a good workout in.

Why did I hurt my back deadlifting?

If you are hurting your back while deadlifting, please stop doing deadlifts and assess your form. Your back should never be in pain when you are deadlifting. Dull achy pains should not be tolerated. Sharp, tingling pains should be avoided always.

Hamstring and back soreness is “okay,” depending on your pain tolerance and what you are actually feeling. You will know the difference between pain and soreness. Making sure you are not deadlifting too frequently is also another key point I should mention.  

I hurt my back from deadlifting, now what?

Always consult with a medical professional to see if anything is wrong. They studied for a long time to be skilled in identifying and aid in your healing. Though there are some bad eggs out there, a majority of the medical community puts your health first.

Your back issue could be anything and discussing this with a medical professional is really the only option. It could be something minor like a back strain. It could be something more major like a hernia or a fracture. Back injuries are tricky and they can ruin your life. I have been following several athletes who suffered back injuries from their hardcore training. These were very popular Youtubers that were training with incredible numbers. After one back injury, their careers spiraled downhill. Part of the reason may be that they do not want to get injured again. Another reason could be fear; these lifters knew what it was like to get injured. Their cost-benefit analysis of whether or not to continue lifting on a competitive level was ultimately not worth it to continue on the grind.

HOWEVER, there is hope. I was researching on the web to see if there were any other alternatives to handling back pain after a deadlift. I found this hidden gem.

Let us recap what you should do if you had deadlift pain.

Do not freak out

Okay, you had some pops. Chill, relax. Keep a calm head and focus on the next step.

Movement

Start moving around. Move your body. Start to do air deadlifts. Start doing air squats. Your back may feel tight. That is okay, work through it and try to get the full range of motion. Eventually, use an empty barbell to do deadlifts and squats. You will notice that the more you move, the better your back will feel.

The morning after the day you injured yourself may be “crippling.” You could hardly move and it will probably be one of your most painful days ever. That is okay. Start moving anyway. Do some air deadlifts. Movement is key and it will heal you.

Take the healing process as a challenge

See how fast you can get back into working out. Take it as a journey for growth and to see what you can learn in the process. This will probably be your first time actively tackling a sensitive issue. Good, see if you can get yourself better. See if you could improve your performance in 24 hours. 48 hours. 1 week. It will be a great experience as long as you keep a positive attitude.

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