I was in the gym yesterday doing a relatively light session which included squatting on the smith machine. It was only about 130kg and I done about 3 sets of 8 reps.

I woke up this morning with an unusual red 'marks' along both of my shoulders.

Is this normal? Or am I doing something wrong whilst holding the bar? It wasn't bothering me at the time and I had a sponge roller thing wrapped around the bar.

enter image description here

The image hasn't done it any justice to be honest, it looks a lot worse to the naked eye! Sorry about the lack of rotation also!

I was just wondering what the cause was really, I'm not concerned about the marks as they aren't bothering me in the slightest, just wanted to know what was the physical reasoning behind them!

  • How much weight? Aug 17 '12 at 14:37
  • It says up the top, only 130kg, I'd understand if it was something heavier. Or are you asking my weight? Aug 17 '12 at 14:38
  • Whoops, sorry, missed that. Aug 17 '12 at 14:40
  • It's your body's way of telling you to stop using the smith machine.
    – Eric
    Nov 3 '14 at 22:43

It looks like you have some surface blood vessels that popped. It's not life threatening or something that would prevent you from working out, but common causes for it are:

  • Compression
  • Pinching
  • Both

The location of the marks leads me to believe that you have the bar on your neck and not on your back. This will put more stress on your neck than it is supposed to handle, and it is also very uncomfortable. Take your right hand, and reach around to the back of your left shoulder. You should feel a ridge of bone that protrudes away from your body. That is called the spine of the scapula. The scapula is the large bone plate on the back of your shoulders.

  • The bar goes across the back.
  • High bar is where the bar is placed just above the spine of the scapula.
  • Low bar is where the bar is placed just below the spine of the scapula.

You will not be able to make sure the bar is in the correct position with the pad in place. Remove the pad and feel the bar going across the back resting just beside the spine of the scapula. That position is also a much stronger position than up on the neck or top of the traps. The bar is more balanced and is not likely to roll on you unless you have it too high or too low.

You will also never have the blood vessel problem in that area.

  • Thanks for the in depth answer, it's always nice to have a good answer that isn't patronising. It's appreciated. Aug 20 '12 at 8:16
  • 1
    No Problem. I was taught the wrong bar placement by a personal trainer and it was too high. Later I over-corrected and had it too low. It's really not as common knowledge as many people think. Aug 20 '12 at 12:28

Either your shirt or the roller pad was probably protruding or got pinched between the sponge roller and your shoulder.

Prevent this in the future by using a barbell without the sponge, without the manta pad, and without the Smith machine.

  • 1
    I was thinking it was the velcro seam on the roller cover if there was one, so +1. :p
    – JohnP
    Aug 17 '12 at 15:03
  • @JohnP Yes! That makes perfect sense. Aug 17 '12 at 15:07

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