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Deadlifting: The bleeding shins controversy

Hey guys. I’ve taken a quite a liking do deadlifts now, and changed from classic to snatch to add a bit of variety. My problem comes when you “drag the bar over your shins” as you ascend. These left massive bruises and caused a little bleeding, which I understand is common, plus a sign that you might be doing it right. I took the advise of someone on here and tried soccer shin guards under my wind pants. It pretty much ripped the windpants right apart. So if you deadlift with shinguards, do you use shorts? If you DON’T use shinpads, how do you get the blood off of the bar so they won’t make me STOP doing deadlifts. I’m sure health issues can be a pretty big concern with the whole “blood-born pathogens” scare present (Someone complaining b/c they’re scared they’re gonna get A.I.D.S. or something.) HELP!.. I like this movement.

There is absolutly no reason to drag the bar acrossed your shins. It’s a sign that you are doing the exercise WRONG, not right.

Very thick, knee high wool socks helped me out tremendously.

A wire brush is essential for cleaning out chalk and dead skin from the knurling, I havent thoughout about blood and pathogens before but if you are worried use a litlle alcohol which would be really funny when the bar is grazzing your legs and the alcohol making it sting like fuck.

I’m not contradicting, Joel, just confused. You say NOT to drag the bar across your shins, but isn’t that what King says to do? I fellow t-men bragging time and time again about the the scars on their shins, or about them bleeding. Is this just unneccisary? Should I be pulling up a bit more than I am back, maybe, to correct my problem? So far I can only pull 215 for 4, so I haven’t done it THAT often. Also, what about the issue of wind pants or shorts? What do you guys wear?

I sometimes wrap a towel around the part of the bar that drags against my shins. That can have the added benefit of changing the thickness of the bar so that your forearms get even more of a workout.

Why is dragging it across your shin wrong? Many stength coaches teach it this way.

When I deadlift the bar is grazing the hair on my legs instead of sliding up my skin. It gets rid of the bloody shins. Also using a bar with less knurling helps. I find absolutely zero difference between level of difficulty for the lift when it the bar is not ripping my skin.

DO NOT listen to Joel on this one. Even though he has contributed some useful info on this forum he is dead wrong about this. Bringing the bar closer to your shins will save unneeded stress on the lower back. To do a traditional deadlift you need to bend your knees like your almost in the bottom of a squat If the bar is not close to your shins then theres no way your going to pick it up without excessive use of the lower back. If you are performing a stiff legged deadlift, then it’s a different story. This movement you perform with a much lighter weight then the traditional deadlift, becaus your trying to hit your hamstrings and glutes mostly, as opposed to just deadlifting a huge amount of weight. As for the blood issue, just take one of those spray bottles out of the cardio room and spray your blod off the bar. And dont be a pussy about the bar hitting your shins!

Not to contradict one of the T-mag gods, but I’ve been around gyms a long time, worked out with powerlifters as well as bodybuilders (including a couple who were nationally ranked), and I have yet to see a deadlift-induced bleeding shin. Personally, no, I don’t think it’s necessary to scrape yourself raw. (But I do like that towel wrapping idea. Never thought about applying it to deadlifts, but it certainly would work the forearms…)

I agree for classic heavy traditional deadlifting, the bar should “graze” your shins but no need to be dragging it across your shins to the point of losing skin and bleeding. When King and others say to drag the bar across your shins, I believe they are just trying to make a point about keeping the bar in close and use the word “dragging” as a figure of speech to ephasize that point but not to the point of literally dragging and losing skin. Pavel, in his book, “Power To The People”, does a very good job of describing the deadlift by dropping your butt down and BACK just as if sitting down and back into a low chair and if keeping your butt back, the bar will be in close to your shins and directly under your shoulders. Keep your shouders back by looking up at the ceiling at the far end of the room and drive with your legs straight down, driving your shoulders straight up as the bar “grazes” your legs all the way. But it shouldn’t cause you to literally bleed.

The whole low-squat starting point for deadlifting is most likely a wasted effort. Next time you deadlift, pay attention to the point at which the plates come off the ground. Where are your knees at this point? You will probably notice that they are at a much greater angle then the starting position. There is no reason to start that low if you are not going to use the intial movement to aide in the lift. The starting angle of the knees should be slightly less than the angle that your knees are at when the plates leave the floor. Anything less than this is simply a waste of exerted energy and will take away from the total poundage that you could have lifted should you have started with your knees at a greater angle (i.e. legs straighter).

You should start with the bar in front of your shins, not right up against or even close to them. Your shoulders should be behind the bar in the starting position; starting with the bar too close to your shins will not allow you to accomplish this, your shoulders will most likely be in front of the bar and you wont be able to pull back. To perform the lift, you pull up and back. I start with the bar about a foot in front of my shins to ensure that my shoulders are behind the bar. The bar comes in contact with my body for the first time in the lower thigh region; it is completly unneccesary to have the bar scraping against your shins; and quite frankly, it's pretty dumb if you are bleeding.

Oh my dear god, I can’t beleive half the bull shit that is being spewed here!Having the bar so close as to scrape your shins is completely wrong. Please dont take this the wrong way, I know your a beginner but the mere fact that you do scrape it on your shins is probably the reason you dont deadlift much… Anyone who pulls with ANY power or weight has got to start with there shoulders BEHIND the bar, other wise the bar must travel out and around your knees, taking you off center partially…Try this…start with the bar about mid foot, and pull back, instead of straoght up…You will be much stronger…Also I would be curious to see what all these “shin scrapers” are actually pulling, because I have been in competition on the natinal level for over 6 years, and I have yet to see ANYONE get bloody shins!! Read Dave Tates Deadlifting articles, and you wont go wrong…Good luck buddy

at less than about 90% or so of max, you should be able to to deadlift without brushing the bar up against your shin. you need to pull the weight back, and you can not do that when the bar is already against your shin. at higher weights, one’s form may be less than perfect and the bar may graze the shin. but that’s generally not the goal or plan. some very good deadlifterts do intentionally drag the bar up their legs. i’d say most do not because they pull back with the weight. lifting weight and getting stronger is the goal, standing around bragging about your shin scars is stupid.

Ian king may be a good coach, but I’ve been into powerlifting for many years, and i’ve never heard one powerlifter say he trains/learned technique from or whatever with ian king.

If you go back in the archives to issue 194, The Dead Zone lists common mistakes with the dead lift. Number 6 is lifting too close to the shins. It has to do with the length of your legs and where your shoulders are in relationship to the bar.

I have done triple bodyweight plus deadlifts at 132-181, and never hurt my shins. I’ve seen some of the best powerlifters in the world, such as John Kuc, an 800lb deadlifter at 242 and a former world champ. I could go on an on. Tom Eisman, an 800lb dl at about 198or possibly 181. These men have never had bloody shins. Your form is off somehow.
When I start my deadlifts I stand a few inches away from the bar, bend down, and pull. No shin problem, no drag. Why would you want to make the lift harder. That’s why we put baby powder on our thighs. It cuts down on drag.

Remember, the deadlift is not a reverse squat. you want to have a coordinated effort between your hips, lower back, and some thigh. You can’t do a deep squat dl with any appreciable weight. If you don’t believe me, aks Dave Tate or Louie Simmons. They are stregnth coaches with real world experience.

Keep the bar close, but you do not need to scrape the shins, that is over kill. Its just plain ridiculous.

Hey Guys, I REALLY appreciate the advise. It’s not that I’m a die-hard shindragger, its just that that’s what I’ve read on here mostly. I’ll give your guys’ technique a shot. Do you guys use an arched back as Tate does, or do you keep the spin in a line like King does. From what I understand, they are two schools of teaching and a matter of preference.

“Gosh Doc, I have this big problem. Seems that I keep bleeding all over this brick wall that I vigorously bang my head against” “Well son, maybe it wouldn’t be so much of a problem if you just STOPPED banging your head against it!”

Proper technique or not, nothing is worth scarring up my legs. Learn to deadlift without dragging your shins and do a little less weight if you’re worried about your back.