Chapman Reflexes Releasing Piriformis Pain. What is this Magic?
January 2, 2018 2:45 AM   Subscribe

Having accidentally stumbled across Chapman Reflexes and completely dissolving my decades-long piriformis pain in 15 minutes, I have SO MANY QUESTIONS but basically, what is this magic? What else don't I know?

I've had right-hip piriformis issues for decades and have generally dealt with it by doing PT exercises that always eventually work out the pain.

Two days ago, I stumbled upon this video. In it, the woman says you'll know the right trigger point because as soon as you're feeling about your upper ribs, one spot will go OWWWW, and that's where you stop and rub. The spot is on the opposite side of the body of the wonky piriformis. Sure enough, I had one spot that felt like a strained muscle the moment I touched it. As soon as I massaged it, the piriformis pain completely disappeared and I had far more mobility in my hip. The next day, the massaged rib spot was super sore, like after a really good sports massage.

What's the deal with Chapman reflex points? Is this a thing people do and I've been living under a rock? Can someone explain how this black magic works?
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 130 users marked this as a favorite
While I can't contribute an explanation as to why this magic works, I just had to say THANK YOU for sharing it. I am plagued by piriformis pain, and this technique is the best kind of witchcraft.
posted by ReginaHart at 5:55 AM on January 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

Thanks for linking this! It reminds me of Do It Yourself Joint Pain Relief, though they seem to be based on slightly different theories. The Chapman Reflexes seem to be based on the lymphatic system. DIY joint therapy is based on the idea that painful joints are often caused by tight or stuck muscles pretty far away from the joint that is in pain, often in counterintuitive places. Releasing that tightness will allow the joint to move freely and get rid of your pain.

That is why the piriformis video reminded me of the DIY joint therapy--there are muscle attachments on your ribs for muscles that go down to your hips--and putting pressure on those muscle attachments as the therapist in the Chapman technique does is one way that DIY joint therapy tries to get your tight/stuck muscles to release.
posted by GregorWill at 6:28 AM on January 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

Well, I’m just a person that’s struggling with these issues but yes, these kinds of things work.

I’ve come to think of my body as working like an X with the center over my sacrum. So the adductors work in a pair with opposite side gluteus. Lats work with opposite side glutes. If your lats are connecting into your ribs poorly and not signaling down to your glutes, your entire body will make up for it. You will start to hurt. Sounds like your piriformus was making up for work your lats weren’t doing. For me my left glutes are lazy so my right side has called in help from the rest of my left side. I work on adductors, psoas, diaphragm by blowing up balloons while hunching over, basically. And it works so incredibly well.

One of my PTs uses lots of pressure point work. She relaxed my diaphragm with three touches and we heard my guts grumble and rumble as they readjusted into a different shaped cavity. She also does moves that looks like she’s flicking things off my knees.

All kinds of things like this out there.
posted by littlewater at 8:23 AM on January 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

OH. MY. GOD. Another person here with no answer, but this may have literally just changed my life. I had to stop working desk jobs in 2012 and go back to waitressing because no amount of exercising and stretching really helped my piriformis pain. Thank you!!!
posted by MexicanYenta at 10:16 AM on January 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

I have no answers either, just nthing the Thank You for posting this black magic!
posted by any_name_in_a_storm at 11:25 AM on January 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

This sounds like trigger points to me. The general idea is that the pain you feel is actually referred by a soft tissue problem elsewhere in the body. I believe the medical/scientific community is somewhat on the fence regarding the efficacy of this approach.

I've had some success with the Trigger point therapy workbook. It's essentially an atlas of pain points an potential sources for this pain. The book is divided into a number of sections for each major body part. For example, if you flip to the section that contains periformis, the book will list a number of sites where you should look for trigger points to rub down.
posted by aeighty at 12:25 PM on January 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

I can't answer your question but I recently saw a craniosacral therapist and this is pretty much what she did and holy cow, it was amazing. I thought it was total BS before I went. She explained it as a kind of myofascial work that was so gentle it was like moving the surface tension on water. So no tapping, just gentle pulsing. It sounds ridiculous but I had a badly swollen leg and it just went away. Like that. And I could feel parts of my body popping back into position during the treatment and for a couple days afterwards

It was super cool, I'm going again tomorrow.
posted by fshgrl at 1:34 PM on January 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Huh. I had a chiropractor do several tricks like this that I assumed were some kind of bs to get me back in for more sessions, many years ago. Now I'm fascinated.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:05 PM on January 2, 2018

Rolfing and "structural integration" is also related, the former being trademarked and usually served with extra Qi Gong style woo. Searching "SMR" might be helpful -- short for "self myofascial release." It seems to me like a combination of deep tissue massage focusing on connective tissue rather than muscle, and some joint stretching and alignment borrowed from chiropractors, physical therapists and yoga.

So far as I can tell, the 'Chapman' terminology is specific to osteopathy. There's some study vids on YT.
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:31 PM on January 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

See also "viscero-somatics."
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:38 PM on January 2, 2018

Are the links " Chapman Reflexes" and "this video" supposed to be pointing to the same video?

In it, the woman says you'll know the right trigger point because as soon as you're feeling about your upper ribs, one spot will go OWWWW, and that's where you stop and rub

I couldn't find this in the linked video.
posted by Pig Tail Orchestra at 5:52 PM on January 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

PTO, around 3:00, she says the spot may be very tender.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 2:07 AM on January 3, 2018

It's the opposite of deep tissue massage on my experience. Very much just on the surface, targeting the fascia just below the skin.
posted by fshgrl at 8:54 AM on January 3, 2018

part of a comment from that Amazon link above -
I would also like to remind anyone starting out the process of working on their TrPs NOT to go overboard. It is very easy to do. You start out, it feels SO good to work out the knots, you are feeling better and better. Then you assume that MORE is BETTER. Maybe you start rolling the TrPs too hard or too much each day or too much in one session. This is where you might set off excess soreness. You have to be careful with the QL muscles (most of us have TrPs there but don't know it until you get in there with a small TrP ball) or you might cause back spasms. I had a chiropractor overwork my QL's and set off a horrific week of spasms before I discovered TrP therapy. So go slow and careful, it will pay off.
posted by aniola at 7:10 AM on January 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

I just followed the link to this question in your comment in the 'simple tricks that work' question, and if you'll pardon a belated answer, I have a theory of why this works.

It has to do with the fact that we evolved from -- and our nearest relatives are -- animals that regularly use all four limbs for locomotion, and that we can therefore expect reflexes which were useful then to leave traces that persist in us even now.

If you try to tickle the ribs of a dog standing on all four legs, for example, which I have done on a number of occasions with different dogs, it will usually raise its rear leg on the same side and make scratching motions toward its ribs!

But it hadn't occurred to me until I saw the part of the video where the therapist is searching for the trigger point and accidentally tickles the subject into laughter, that a reflex which causes a four legged animal to raise one of its rear legs had better also cause the leg that remains on the ground to tense up so the animal doesn't stumble, lurch, or fall.

Then when the tickling stimulus ceases, a signal is sent which relaxes the tensed leg on the opposite side to the tickling, and that relaxation includes a tensed-up piriformis.

I think it's very reasonable to guess that stimulating that part of the rib cage in humans triggers relict reflexive leg lifting on the same side in humans, but that gets blocked somehow, yet when the stimulus stops, the relaxation signal nevertheless works on the chronically tensed piriformis muscle on the opposite side.

Now, does the leg lifting reflex somehow cause the piriformis to tense up in the first place? I would say yes, in general, but that's a more complicated argument to make.
posted by jamjam at 3:22 PM on March 12, 2018 [3 favorites]

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