Save My Shoulders!
July 3, 2010 5:47 AM   Subscribe

Can you help me stop getting broken blood vessels on my shoulders at the gym?

When I use the leg press machine and the calf raise machine at my gym, my shoulders are pressed so hard that I get ugly broken blood vessels. I've stopped doing the calf raise machine altogether, but would like to continue doing the leg press. (My gym's leg press is not like this one. It has pads for your shoulders and the sled moves, not the foot plate; it looks ancient compared to all the leg press pictures I'm seeing online.)

The trainer at the gym says my form is fine, so it's not that. It happened even when the weight was rather light, so I don't think the amount of weight I use now is a problem. I roll up towels and put them on the shoulder pads of the machine, but that hasn't helped.

The marks seem to appear right along where the seams of my t-shirt are. Are there any women's t-shirts that don't have seams across the shoulders? Should I wear old lady tops with shoulder pads? (Please let the answer to that one be a resounding no.) Other ideas?
posted by dayintoday to Health & Fitness (6 answers total)
I get these too, and I've found that the broken blood vessels stop after a few weeks of regularly using the machines. I don't know if my shoulders have toughened up or what, but it does take a couple of times using those machines.

So maybe just gut it out and avoid wearing tank tops for the few weeks while your shoulders get used to it?
posted by xingcat at 5:57 AM on July 3, 2010

I was getting those from the calf raise machine once upon a time, although mine was from my sports bra seams. Honestly? Forget the leg press machine and start doing real squats. The bar sits differently on your shoulders and neck, so you probably will not have issues. Ask the trainer to show you how.
posted by smalls at 6:54 AM on July 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'll second both answers above: your skin will probably get used to it, and real squats are better for you anyway. The first day of volleyball practice always saw me with bright red forearms afterward, but somehow the blood vessels toughen up after a week or so and it would stop hurting and getting red. Also, barbell squats will work on your core as well as your legs; just make sure you do them with the proper technique.
posted by Aizkolari at 7:13 AM on July 3, 2010

Just avoid using those machines, or put a towel between your shoulders and the pads. But I agree with others -- do barbell squats instead.
posted by teedee2000 at 8:29 AM on July 3, 2010

The Leg Press you're talking about is probably a Hack Squat machine.
A rolled up towel is an old standby and would probably work great for what you're talking about. If you do decide to do old regular squats and you still want to use the towel, you have to be a bit careful to have the weight loaded correctly on your shoulders. Front squats may be a better solution than regular back squats for you.
Using a Manta Ray may be another option if you decide to switch to free weights.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:57 AM on July 3, 2010

I had the same experience as smalls. What you want to do is a low bar back squat, and ask until you find a trainer who is willing to teach you one (not a goblet squat, and definitely not a Smith machine squat). In proper low bar position, you will squeeze your scapulae together to create a fleshy "shelf" for the bar -- no more broken blood vessels, yay!
posted by telegraph at 9:31 AM on July 4, 2010

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