For eight years, I’ve been unable to grow leg hair along my shins.
The culprit, as you may have already guessed, is regular deadlifting. I love deadlifts more than any other lift because I enjoy picking heavy things up and down. But as the saying goes, the things we love the most tend to hurt us the most, too, and deadlifting is no exception.
As we’ve written before, deadlifts generally work best when you keep the barbell very close to your body. This may mean scraping your shins from time to time, and in my case, years of plucking some leg hair along with it, too.
Knee socks are great, just ask our Vitals editor, Beth. But even then, I tend to find an occasional cut along my shins that socks can’t always prevent. Worse, my gym is hex plate-only—I know, I need a new gym, but it’s just so cheap and close—meaning that during deadlift sessions, the bar might roll an inch toward me during a rep, colliding with my shins. That’s when I recently decided to try shinguards, the kind you might use in soccer, but ones designed specifically for lifting.
And readers, allow me to obsess for several moments, they are excellent for deadlifts. When I tried them last month, I could drag the barbell up my legs without feeling any pressure against my shins or having hair yanked in the process. The cushioning is pretty giving and I still feel like I’m grazing my shins adequately enough.
The ones I use, in particular, are much thinner than your usual soccer shinguard, as to be expected for deadlifts. My shinguard has about 5 millimetres of cushioning in the front, which is made of neoprene, and a thinner sleeve made of nylon in the back. The front is thicker than your average sock but doesn’t compromise your ability to keep the barbell close to your body. It extends as high as your knee and wraps around your ankle, with a strap at the base of your foot to prevent it from riding up your leg. It feels a lot like a compression sleeve—some brands market it as compression-wear, but mine doesn’t—and I tend to forget it’s they’re even on when I workout, other than that it tends to retain heat so my legs warm up pretty quickly.
Depending on the pair and brand, they’re more expensive than a pair of socks; I’ve been hesitant over splurging on deadlift guards for this reason. (How can I justify spending $30 on SOCKS?) But they’re worth the cost, knowing I can maintain form without sacrificing my shins in the process.
Of course, you’ll have to launder them as often you would with any other workout gear because they retain so much sweat—but it beats missing entire patches of hair on your legs.