Dec 22nd, 2012
Kelly modeling proper deadlifting attire.
We are going to explore how a single article of clothing can aid the deadlift and in the process make us better people. Since Polonius suggested, "Brevity is the soul of wit," I, too, will get to the point. You should wear long socks that come up to right below the knee every time you deadlift. This will allow you to use better form, lift more weight, avoid abrasion, and protect your fellow trainees in the gym.
As always, performance is of greatest interest. When a trainee pulls a heavy bar off the floor, it needs to be as close to the point of balance of the lifter-barbell system as it can. This allows for an efficient pull and for the most weight to be lifted. In this case, that point of balance is the middle of the foot. The middle of the foot is actually right around where the navicular meets the cuneiform bones, which is to say, quite close to the lower leg. Upon approaching a barbell, a trainee will have the bar over the midfoot when it is approximately one inch from the shin. This is from where the deadlift should start and the bar should not be moved forward from this point.
Now that the stance is established, the trainee grips the bar and drops the hips until the shins come in contact with the bar. Since the trainee knows that the midfoot is the balance point of the lift, they wisely avoid pushing the bar forward with the shins during this process.
Here is where the socks come in handy. An efficient pull is one that moves in a straight line and uses the musculature in such a way that every muscle that can contribute to the lift is called into contraction. When the bar comes off the floor, it needs to be in contact with the legs the whole way up. When this occurs, the quadriceps can be fully utilized to help with the lift while maintaining the highly coveted vertical bar path over the balance point. If the shins are not protected during the lift, a trainee is highly likely to break the skin covering the bony ridge of the tibia and, if they are particularly lucky, they will begin to bleed. This will often happen even if they narrow their stance to avoid the abrasive knurling on the bar.
A nice, long pair of socks prevents this unfortunate situation. Abrading the shins and bleeding on the bar does not make anyone feel any better during what is already a very uncomfortable lift. Continuing to drag the bar up unprotected legs over the course of multiple training sessions can repeatedly reopen the wound, courting infection and scarring. Further, bleeding on the bar makes a mess and subjects other trainees to the risk of infection from whatever blood-borne illnesses the lifter may be carrying around. Wearing long socks during deadlifts, or really any pull, is an act of kindness and respect towards your fellow trainees.
Keeping the bar in contact with the legs on the deadlift allows for proper positioning during the lift and the optimal usage of the musculature. Wearing long socks makes this easier to achieve through the prevention of abrasion and bleeding. The socks protect the lifter from the bar and other trainees from the lifter. If you don’t own long socks, buy a few pairs and keep them with you when you come to the gym. You will lift better and do everyone else a favor by just wearing one article of clothing. Merry Christmas and Happy Deadlifting.