Knee pain a thing of the past

Jan Murphy performs a Romanian split squat on a foam roller under the guidance of his trainer, Farr Ramsahoye, at 247 Fitness on Gardiners Road on Friday. (Supplied photo)

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Knee pain is something to which I, unfortunately, have become accustomed over the past decade.

It was about a decade ago that I decided I needed to get in better shape. I was into my thirties, I’d ballooned to well over 300 pounds in the wake of my brother’s death, combined with the most sedentary job on Earth.

I started by working out. I was younger, had more energy and still very much had youth on my side, so much of that training revolved around treadmills and cardio.

I began to enjoy cardio so much, I even began running.

Huge mistake. Literally and figuratively.

If you’ve ever laid eyes on me, track star or runner would not be the first words to come to mind. I’m a bigger guy. I’ve always been that way.

When I was younger, I played sports, but I wasn’t elite. I was a good softball player and could handle my own on ice skates, and I was a decent road hockey player, but I didn’t do a lot of long-distance running or things of that nature.

My training was going so well a decade ago that I began to run frequently. The gym treadmill was a near daily occurrence. I pushed myself to run faster. I pushed to run for longer periods. I pushed to run for greater distances.

Soon, the treadmill wasn’t good enough and I moved outside. I’d run from my home in Sydenham to the village of Railton and back. I’d run twice, three times, four times a week. I’d run with my dog. I even competed in the annual Beat Beethoven run one year.

It wasn’t long after that Beethoven run that I began running on a track. One day, after completing my run, I noted some pain on the front of my knees, beneath my knee caps. It was sensitive to the touch.

I ignored it.

I kept running.

Each time I’d finish running, that pain worsened.

Then I’d start to notice it while running the bases playing ball.

Soon, my knees would begin swelling during or after a weekend of ball. I had to ice them, wrap them, rest them, do whatever I could to keep the swelling and pain manageable while I played the only sport I ever truly loved.

I began to seek the help of knee specialists and doctors. I visited surgeons. I had MRIs, X-rays and opinion after opinion as I struggled through the pain and fought to hold onto my youth. I’d still run when I could, too, though that became less and less frequent as the pain became more of a daily thing versus a post-workout phenomenon.

Eventually, I was diagnosed with patellar tendonosis and osteoarthritis. My weight, combined with my form and just not having the best build to be running, had taken a toll. The tendonosis was directly related to my constant running.

Looking back, I was probably running too often, without proper guidance and knowledge, and probably even without proper footwear upgrades at the right time.

Eventually, I stopped running. I retired from ball. But the pain remained. If I walked up or down a flight of stairs, I could feel that pain on the front of both knees in those tendons, enough to sap me of my power but not enough to prevent me from walking. Just running.

Months kept going by, then years. I tried physio, acupuncture, I rubbed pain meds on them, I rolled them, I got massages. … I felt like I’d tried it all.

In fact, I had come to accept the fact that I would live with my weak, aching knees for the rest of my days.

Enter my trainer, Visionary Fitness’s Farr Ramsahoye, who from the day he met me told me that the knee pain wasn’t permanent and that I’d have to address all the other factors that were contributing to it in order to lessen, and heal it. Yes, he said, heal it. As in make it go away.

Now, I’ve admitted this to him many times, but when he said that, the voice in my head gave him a huge eye roll and a said: “Yeah, right, buddy. Doctors, specialists and physiotherapists couldn’t fix this, but a personal trainer can. Pfft.”

Alas, I smiled and nodded.

Farr set out to work with me in January 2018, slowly and meticulously helping to rebuild me.

Each time something came up, be it a minor pain, a long-term one or just a little thing, he tackled it like he was Tom Brady’s last defensive lineman.

All the while, Farr pushed me to strengthen my lower body, work on my mobility and to stay the course and trust him.

Each workout had a purpose. There was method to all the madness, as he’d say.

The first time I had to do a Bulgarian split squat, my knees sounded like a tree branch scraping a window. And the pain.

I used to massage my tendons on my knees when I’d sit and talk to people or visit with someone. And I could always feel that pain. Sometimes it was mild, sometimes medium, sometimes sharp.

Then one day I attempted to massage that area and the pain seemed significantly less.

Stairs have been a huge Litmus test for me since my injuries. Going down stairs, I had to hold a rail, or sometimes go one foot down, bring the other foot down to the same step, then do the next step.

One day I was walking down my stairs at home and all the pain was gone. My legs felt strong, my knees no longer felt week.

Another time, I noted that I could go up and down without the aid of the rails.

As each month passed, my pain lessened to the point that it disappeared.

Like, completely. Permanently, too.

I kid you not.

Today, if I push and prod the tendons on the front of my knees, I feel no pain. I can walk stairs, in both directions, pain-free. I can squat with ease on both legs. The creaking and cracking are gone.

My knees, unbelievably, are fully healed.

The moral of this story is that even after you’ve given up hope, sometimes there is still an answer.

In my case, Farr was that answer. You have to put your faith in someone else’s knowledge.

I, for one, am awfully glad Farr came into my life when he did.