Episode 415 – Bill Parravano – The Knee Pain Guru
For Episode 415 we have guest Bill Parravano. Bill is “The Knee Pain Guru”. He has over 25 years of martial art and bodywork experience understanding movement and tensions patterns that lead to physical pain. Bill believes the nervous system holds the keys to the body’s healing. It bridges gaps between what we currently know and the infinite number of possibilities for the body to heal in the realm of what we don’t know. This combination creates the shortest distance between a life riddled with pain to a high quality fully expressed physical life.
Listen in as we talk all about knee pain and knee health.
00:48 – Pre-intro/Summary
1:57 – Introducing Bill Parravano and Bill’s background with Knee issues
4:26 – Studying different styles of bodywork – Orthobionomy and Systema
6:34 – Tension patterns
8:44 – How paleo came into play with Bill’s strategy
11:38 – Diet vs surgery for back and knee issues
14:30 – Meniscus tears, unnecessary and necessary surgery
15:45 – The difference between mechanical dysfunction and pain
16:48 – Bill’s process of starting with someone with knee pain
20:30 – Bringing awareness to the basics
25:21 – Conventional pain management vs getting to the source
26:25 – Common deficiencies and imbalances that are causing knee pain
31:30 – How to keep from getting knee problems, and gross motor movements vs intrinsic movements
37:50 – Where to find Bill
Website and 7-Day Knee Pain Reduction Challenge: https://www.thekneepainguru.com/
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVlHprd8eMf5jhmSzZtu8Sg
Download a transcript of this episode here (PDF)
Paleo Solution – 415
Robb: Hey folks, six listeners can’t be wrong. Another edition of the Paleo Solution Podcast. Today was a fun podcast and definitely a departure from the usual kind of protein, carbs, fat deal. Bill Parravano on. Bill is a guy that I’ve known for quite some time and we– Apparently, we were each following the other’s work kind of from afar and then we were kind of introduced to each other when our social Venn diagrams kind of overlapped.
Bill is a knee pain expert and he arrived at this from being a high level judoka who suffered a pretty significant knee injury. Then embarked on a process of learning how to effectively deal with knee pain. It’s quite different than what you would get out of maybe the standard physical therapy scene or orthopedic scene, but it’s fascinating stuff. I’ve got to say, the feedback that I’ve had from folks that I’ve referred to Bill has been quite good. Check this one out from Bill Parravano, the knee pain guru.
Hey Bill, how are you?
Bill: Good sir. I’m doing great.
Robb: Hey man. Thank you for accommodating my hectic schedule. We’ve been trying to do this since basically spring of this year. We finally made thing happen and super, super stoked to talk to you. I have had a variety of orthopedic issues including some knee issues over the course of a powerlifting career, a Thai boxing career and now my old dude jiu-jitsu stuff. Bill, give folks a little bit of your background before we launch in specifically with some more details. Give them a little bit of a broader background for you.
Bill: Got it. I got involved in the whole knee pain shtick as a result of dislocating my left knee four times. I used to be involved in judo. I traveled and competed internationally back in the ’90s. Then December ’98, got invited to go skiing and did a faceplant. Well, I was with skis on and ended up partially tearing the ligament in my left knee. Thinking I was invincible, I continued over the next several months to dislocate my left knee three more times in volleyball, judo and then finally softball.
In that last shred of ligament, ACL, that I tore in my left knee out. Finally, got to a place where I was like, “I should probably go to the doctor and get this checked out?” Went to an orthopedic surgeon for the University of Louisville, the sports teams, Dr. John Ellis and he did the testing on the knee and he’s like, “Yeah, we could do an MRI, but the ACL is gone.” Scheduled for surgery a month later and had reconstructive surgery on the ACL, the ligament in my left knee and they took out two pieces of meniscus.
Well at the time, I owned a computer business and competed in judo, and now I had this knee thing that I wanted to figure out just so I can get back out on the judo mat and throw people again. That was the big thing that I wanted to do. That kind of launched me in a really different direction in my life where I started studying different modalities of body work. One that I really sought after was an osteopathically-based style of body work called ortho-bionomy. Ortho-bionomy was founded by a British osteopath who is also a judo instructor.
Robb: Oh, interesting.
Bill: Yeah, I know. He took a lot of principles of judo and applied it to an original osteopathic concept and developed an entire style of body work. That piqued my interest in terms of area of study. Simultaneously, I started studying a Russian style of martial art called Systema which had a huge emphasis on breathing movement and relaxation, as well as strengthening the tendons, ligaments and fascia in the joints. It was a combination of those things that I started pursuing just because, one, I like learning and, two, I wanted to get back throwing people.
That was 19 years ago. I kind of went headfirst into it with all of that and studied for about three or four years parallel, like thinking the Systema and ortho-bionomy were talking about two different things. Because one is a subtle gentle style of body work that functions with the body only in a position of comfort and the other is a very– Systema focuses on increasing awareness, but can also be very brutal in some respects as many martial arts can be with a huge healing component to it.
There was one point where I realized they were both talking about the same thing of the opposite end of the spectrum meaning you had– They were talking about the nervous system. They were talking about neurological responses that the body takes in and then it converts into some sort of tension pattern in the body. Taking your powerlifting, Muay Thai, jiu-jitsu, each of those require different types of tension patterns in order to function in the different capacities which your body wants to show up.
Well, sometimes, those tension patterns can actually be dysfunctional in a way that irritates the nerves in a certain area of the knee, the hips, the lower back, the ankles, the feet, the neck, the shoulders and it creates a kind of a cascade of responses that the body is in as a result of moving into a sympathetic neurological state that sets up the conditions for the body to– It’s not sustainable for the body. The body breaks down, you’re looking at a lot of other issues that happen as a result of this dysfunctional tension pattern that is manifested in the body.
I studied, I’ve been studying pretty much ever since in some capacity where I got certified in both the United States and in Europe in ortho-bionomy and I became an instructor of Systema back in 2004-2005, somewhere around in there. Just been kind of my kind of my deal, just enjoy it, enjoy learning about the body in learning about how to essentially unlock what is keeping the body stuck in this dysfunctional tension pattern.
Robb: Awesome. Awesome. We have some interesting overlapping Venn diagrams of folks that we have in common which is really quite, quite interesting. How did this kind of Paleo ancestral health concept get on your radar and how is that kind of woven into your overall strategy in addressing knee pain in particular?
Bill: Yes. It was 2010, at the time, I was living in Louisville, Kentucky. I was training at a CrossFit gym there, more along the lines of strength training that I was really getting into. One of the trainers there, a Quinn Henoch, physical therapist, had suggested– I was getting to a place where I was hitting a wall in my training. The coaches there were like, “Well, send me what you eat for a couple of days.” I put it in there and they’re like, “You’re not eating enough protein.” I was like, “Oh. Whoa.” That was kind of a big aha for me and that’s where the whole Paleo thing.
Listening to your podcast, I was pointed from– Derby City CrossFit. They pointed me in the direction of listening to your podcast and I was kind of going, “Whoa, this makes a lot of sense.” This whole concept of inflammation and getting away from breads and just a lot of the stuff that contribute to systemic inflammation in the body. Kind of put that on the forefront, I was studying that, I got into your– Got into listening to Loren Cordain. You had was The Paleo Solution was the first book, correct?
Robb: That was my first book, yeah. Yup.
Bill: I read The Paleo Solution and had such a dramatic difference in how my body felt, how my body performed, just the allocation of everything just improved. I was like, “Whoa, this is good stuff.” Realizing that when the body is in a perpetual sympathetic state, a sympathetic response due to pain, inflammation is a natural result of that. If you can add in the component of this reducing systemic inflammation by tweaking your diet and eating more proteins and good fats as a way of reducing systemic inflammation, it was just enhancing the clients that I was working with.
Robb: Totally, totally makes sense. I’m on the board of directors of an orthopedic, a clinic that started out as an orthopedic clinic, a bunch of orthopedic surgeons that really started looking at the evidence-based medicine in a pretty critical fashion and it mainly pertaining to low back injury and potentially low back surgery. But when they really started digging into the literature and they looked at five and ten-year outcomes for surgery versus non surgery, it seemed like the people not doing surgery were often generally doing…