Having a coaching based Tacoma gym, BeFit Tacoma, a common question my trainers ask me is what exercise do I do for people who have knee pain? Or what exercises do I recommend for people who have shoulder pain. These are very loaded questions.  Like the potato skins at BJ breweries, I hate to give generic answers to questions that are most likely more complex, but as you know simplifying things makes people happy. That’s why some people like Superman; he’s simple and not complex like my hero Batman. Though I very much enjoy the complex, like Batman, I am writing this article for anyone who is more interested in the simple Superman life.

When someone does an exercise and has pain, it’s important to realize what pain is. Pain is your body telling you something is wrong. If you didn’t have any nerves, you would probably keep doing the exercise until your leg falls off. Nerves are a good thing. So next time someone says, “You’ve got a lot of nerve,” you should tell them, “I’m sensitive and it’s a good thing!” If you hit a nerve, you have put something somewhere where it doesn’t belong. Now you may have a wooden spike in your leg, but that probably isn’t the problem. Most likely you have poked a bone somewhere where it doesn’t like. Muscles move bones. Time to move those bones differently.

BeFit Tacoma Gym Knee Cure

                Knees are a funny thing. We need them, but we abuse them with high heels. Gentlemen, thank goodness society doesn’t dictate you wear high heels or your knee health would be right there with the ladies. Regardless of what kind of damage your knees may have endured from high heels or other fashion forward accessories, you have to understand shin angles in order to know how to train around your pain at your Tacoma gym.  When you lunge or squat and bring your knee forward past your toe, you are creating a negative shin angle. The angle between your shin and your foot is in a deficit. When you bring your knee back in a straight line, it is a positive angle. If you bend your knee into a lunge, but keep your knee behind your ankle, and instead of driving forward, drop straight down, you will keep your shin angle positive.  This is known in training as a positive shin angle or a vertical tibia.

By keeping your shin straight when you squat, you will avoid the movement at the knee and basically change your squat to a deadlift (Yes, deadlifts should keep your knees fairly straight depending on the depth). Not everyone needs to keep their knees perfectly straight, but the more you share the stress to the hips and less to the quads, the less strain on your knees. Regardless of what form you may use, sometimes you have just plain abused the muscles surrounding,supporting, and protecting your knees, and you’ll just need to take some time off. In that case, pick an exercise from the other column I gave you. If that still hurts, take a day off from your Tacoma gym, get some soft tissue work (self massage or more ideally massage from a BOSS, not just some random therapist), work on your nutrition, and weigh out your own personal happiness on no knee pain compared to looking good in high heels.

BeFit Tacoma Gym Back Cure

A well designed training program at any Tacoma gym should not only address the muscles of your mirror muscles, but the muscles on the back. They say you can tell a strong man by when he walks away. Upper back thickness and strong glutes (or junk in the trunk) are the true signs of a well developed body. Training your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings as one unit is the secret to having a truly great butt. Not only will having all these muscles stronger increase your ability to stabilize your knee and diminish the amount of pain your knees have, but they will make all the designer clothes fit you much better ;). Most people don’t know how to get a flat back when they train, and therefore cannot train their whole lower body properly. This results in the famous, “I hurt my back lifting,” complaint.

Once you learn to keep your lower back flat and make sure there is no movement at the joints, your back pain will go away. No motion means no joints pinching nerves; no nerves being pinched means no pain signals. See how easy this is. This doesn’t mean you have a free license to load up your spine. Adopting a new position will take some time and an eye for detail, but I have worked with countless clients at my Tacoma gym to fix this problemwith great success. Once again, you have to remember not to overload the tissue and don’t start to slack as the weight gets heavier. Oh! And sit up straight while you read this!

BeFit Tacoma Shoulder Cure

Shoulders are a tricky thing. Like anything in life you can’t go somewhere if your head is not going with you. Working with the head and neck is something I prefer to leave to much more qualified physical therapists and health care professionals, but I’ll share some of my knowledge. Many times a shoulder has pain because it clips onto the top of another bone. Like I said before, extended abuse will create pain even without movement, and in that case you need to take a day off, go home, and think about your life. In order to stop shoulders from clipping nerves, you have to get a good hold of putting the ball of your arm socket (head of the humerus for all you anatomy nerds) into the socket of your shoulders (your acromion process). Please stop snoring it’s rude. Watch the attached video to see what that looks like. You want to think of “back and down.” The best advice I heard was back and down is a direction not a position. By getting your shoulder blades back and down, you’ll use your stabilizer muscles to hold your shoulder blades onto your rib cage which will keep your shoulders from clipping any nerves. The most crucial piece of information to remember is ears are poison to the shoulders. Don’t shrug. Keep your ears and shoulders are far away from each other as possible. Creating an exercise list for people with shoulder pain is more complex because you can give them stabilization exercises, but if they aren’t strong enough through their stabilizers to hold themselves in even the holds, you’re going to have pain regardless. The position is the magic on shoulders.

BeFit Tacoma Gym Cheat Sheet

Here is a common list of exercises I swap out to help my clients keep exercising and keep the pain away. The first exercise is the exercise that people commonly have problems with. The exercise to the right is the one I substitute that exercise with, and the third item is what I tell you to focus on while you do it, to keep your body in the right position.  There are many different exercises.  The ones I will go over are the ones we most commonly use and the ones that I find essential for any training program.


BeFit Tacoma Gym Pain Problem Cheat Sheet


Squat- Box Squat- Sit back slow onto the chair as if you’re sitting on broken glass. Get all the way back on the box.

Lunges- Split Squat- Keep the front shin straight and don’t let the front heel come off the ground

Step Ups- Step up with forward lean- Start at the top, slowly lower down keeping the front shin angled and torso forward.

Jumping Jacks- Pogos- Keep legs straight and pull toes toward shins


Sit ups and variations- plank- be a pig on a stick.  Don’t sag

Deadlifts- Romanian Deadlift- Come down only as far as your hips will let you, make sure I can see what’s on your shirt

Hip Bridge- Hip Bridge with less range of motion- Come up only as high as your hips will take you, not as far as your lower back will

Plank- Plank on knees- Fix your low back position so hips, lower back, and shoulders are all in a straight line

Burpees- Squat burpees- Squat down driving your knees forward and then touch the ground keeping your back flat to get to the floor


Pushups- Pushup Hold- Focus on keeping your shoulder blades back and down and don’t move them. Keep the core engaged.

Overhead press- Band tears- Shoulder blades back and don’t, don’t move them and pull the band back as far as you can

Fix Me Doc!

There are many things that go into helping someone move without pain, and as I said, this is a Superman list not a Batman list. I have found through my career that problems in one part of the area are rarely a result of that one part of the body. If the shoulder has problems, usually the neck has problems, and the opposite hip has problemsalong with the knee and ankle. It’s nice to move one hundred percent flawlessly, but the goal is to get fit, not spend hours trying to relearn what you’re doing. If you are interested in more, tone nutrition is, and always will be, the most important part of any Tacoma gym program. Nerves are there to communicate how your body likes things; learn to identify discomfort from true pain and remember that sometimes you have a day where you just need to rest the tissue. Using the techniques above and keeping the anatomy concepts in mind during training will help you achieve levels of fitness despite your limiting factors. For more questions and coaching you can reach me at befittacoma@gmail.com.We can pet fluffy kittens and talk about exercise together.

BeFit and BeBatman,


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