Are your shins taking a beating every time you Deadlift? Good news: this might mean that you're Deadlifting with proper technique - keeping the bar close to your body - which allows for better leverages and less lower back stress.
The bad news is that scraped shins can also mean that your Deadlift technique is wrong. Add that you can start pulling with the bar away from your body just to avoid scraping the scar from your shins, and this is less effective for strength.
As a guy who is now pulling 500lb raw at only 165lb body-weight, here are 5 tips that I've found useful to eliminate shin scraping on Deadlifts...
1. Check Your Technique. Although scraping your shins can be unavoidable depending on the length of your limbs and body type, you can often eliminate almost all shin scraping by fixing the starting position on the Deadlift.
- If the bar is too far from your shins, your ankles will bend too much, your shins will be too incline, and you'll hit them on each pull.
- If your hips are too low, you'll also hit your shins. Do not Deadlift with your hips lower than your knees, Deadlifts are not Squats.
In the correct Deadlift starting position, the bar should be above the center of your feet with your shoulder-blades over the bar when looking from the side. Read the article The Difference Between Deadlifting with Low and High Hips.
2. Wear Long Pants. I always Deadlift wearing track pants. Even when it's hot, I'll Squat in shorts first and then wear my long pants when it's time to pull. And even though I know a lot of guys who Deadlift big weights wearing shorts, I've seen too many subconsciously pull with the bar away from their body (that's bad leverages) in order to avoid scraping their shins. That's why I recommend you to wear track/sweat pants instead of shorts for Deadlifts.
3. Wear Long Socks. Watch StrongLifts Member Simon ("LittleSimonGeorge", 31y, London UK) Deadlifting 572lb - he's wearing long Deadlift socks to prevent shin scraping. Soccer socks or skater socks or shin sleeves will work too, look at StrongLifts Member Simon ("Mouse", 37 UK) pulling 440lb wearing long socks.
4. Use Athletic Tape. Scraping your shins during Deadlifts is not a big deal but scraping a SCARRED shin is. Unless you can find a less aggressive bar without middle knurling, it can pull the scar away and then your shin will bleed hard. This shouldn't stop you from finishing your set, but the scar will get bigger if you hit it several times with the bar and it will bleed week after week.
Solution: protect your scarred shins by putting some duck tape vertically on top of your shin. If you train hard, you'll be sweating and the duck tape won't be painful when you remove it - even if you're more hairy than Wolverine.
5. Shin Guards. The International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) allows the use of shin guards. If you're one of those cheapskates, you could cover your shins by cutting a water bottle in half and put both parts behind your socks. Frankly, I think these 2 solutions are over the top - just wear long pants and socks.
Some gym etiquette - if you're one of those masochists who looks at scraped shins as a badge of honor and who insists in Deadlifting in shorts, please do not leave the bar covered in blood after you're done. Clean it up, thanks.
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