How to avoid bruised collar bones when catching a clean

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Ok, this one is a current problem at our end. Been learning the Olympic lifts recently (clean & jerk and snatch) and starting putting some weight on the bar. Managed to acquire some particularly stunning bruises on the thighs, which was definitely from poor technique so hopefully should improve with time, but also some impressive ones on the collar bones. Which were then replicated and extended in the next lifting session. After heading out and enjoying the recent good weather, it wasn’t until returning home that these new bruises were spotted – which led to the question, are bruised collar bones normal when learning the clean? And will this always happen – as we’re pretty certain that you don’t see Olympic lifters getting up on the platform covered in bruises??? Some digging around on the interweb found this good video with some coaching tips to help improve the catch and reduce your chances of bruising! Hurrah! But if you are reading this because you are also in the unfortunate position of owning a set of the bruises check out the section below on how to treat bruises.  

How to treat bruises

Prevention Of course the best course of action is to avoid getting bruising in the first place. However that’s easier said than done when it comes to learning Olympic lifts, but taking their advice of swapping training to clean high pulls, snatch etc will at least mean you can drill better technique without adding to the bruising. Ice – Bruising is internal bleeding. In the case of bruised collar bones from lifting apply ice as soon as possible post training to help limit the extent of the bruising. Ice works by causing vaso-constriction (the blood vessels narrow, limiting the blood flow to the area). Ice for 10mins using an ice pack. If you are using ice itself, or a bag of peas etc, then wrap the ice in a thin towel to prevent ice burn. Arnica – If you are wanting to increase the speed at which your bruise disappears you could consider using arnica cream. This has been used for many years as a natural therapy treatment for the reduction of symptoms in bruises and swelling. Anecdotally it has a lot of success stories, but the mechanism of action and efficacy of arnica has not been supported by evidence-based medicine. It is very possible that the action of massaging in the arnica cream itself may encourage dispersal of swelling and enhance circulation; improving the acute inflammatory response. Heat – After 48hrs (once the bleeding has stopped) you can apply heat/warmth to the area to encourage vaso-dilation (expansion of the local blood vessels). This acts to increase blood flow to the area and facilitate the ‘clean-up’ operation from the local bleeding. Gentle broad massage would have a similar effect. Good luck!

This blog post is for information only and does not replace the advice of a medical professional. If you are in any doubt about your health/condition then contact your GP or NHS Direct immediately.
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Headstart Sports Injury and Performance Clinic is owned and run by experienced sports massage therapist Vicki Marsh. We are based in Cambridge, UK, and specialise in resolving complex injuries that are causing acute or chronic pain,affecting quality of life and sporting performance. Vicki has over 12 years experience delivering sports massage to rowers, runners, international athletes and Olympic medallists.

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