Back pain is one of the most common reasons people go to the doctor (according to the Mayo Clinic). We’ve both suffered from a variety of different pain and tension issues in different parts of our backs, from the shoulders to the middle of our back right down to the lower back. No bueno.
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Often our back pain has been caused by poor posture when sitting at a desk and can be exacerbated by a heavy training load and long runs.
We’re always excited to find new ways to stretch and relieve tension in our backs, especially if they don’t involve going to a Chiropractor, which can get expensive. Enter the Chirp Wheel.
This Chirp Wheel review covers the key features, pros, cons, and our thoughts on using this back pain relief back roller wheel.
✓ READ THIS NEXT: We have also reviewed Chirp’s 3-in-1 muscle roller stick, and Chirp Wheel XL ➡ Chirp Introduces New 3-In-1 Muscle Roller Stick.
What is the Chirp Wheel and how to use Chirp Wheel for your back
The Chirp Wheel from ‘GoChirp’ (formerly known as the Plexus Wheel) is a firm back roller wheel designed to relieve back pain and tension, which is FDA-registered as a medical device.
How To Use the Chirp Wheel back roller in a safe way
The concept is very simple: place the Chirp Wheel on the ground, and lie on it with your feet planted on the ground and the back roller wheel sitting between your shoulder blades.
Then carefully keeping your balance, roll slowly up and down the back wheel, so it remains in the center of your back.
Why use a Chirp Wheel and not a foam roller?
For years we have used our foam roller to relieve tension in our backs as well as other parts of our body – that is, after all, one of the main reasons for having a foam roller.
Where the Chirp Wheel differs from the foam roller when it comes to rolling your back is that at 5 inches wide.
It is narrow enough to fit between your shoulder blades, and has a channel in it that is intended to align with your spine.
So, you’re not rolling on your spine itself, and the pressure is therefore concentrated either side of your spine, between your shoulder blades and down the middle of your back.
A foam roller, on the other hand, is either knobbly or a smooth cylinder of foam, so it doesn’t have the same structure.
The Chirp Wheel is made from an injection-molded plastic core (that can withstand up to 500lb of pressure) and an EVA foam soft outer layer.
How does the Chirp Wheel work on your back?
From the Chirp website: “The Chirp Wheel puts pressure on the muscles surrounding the spine. In doing so, the muscles are stretched and strengthened. The technical term for this is Myofascial Release. Myofascial is a fancy word for muscle, and release is referring to the tension within the muscle.”
Effectively, my understanding, as a non-professional, albeit someone who has asked many of qualified professionals questions about this in the past, the intention of such massages is that if the back muscles are stretched in the right way, there is a release and that should result in reduced tension pretty much immediately.
This often also results in the much sought-after back ‘popping’ or ‘cracking’ sounds, which is apparently actually a result of the pressure within the joint changing (and not your bones actually cracking, in case you were wondering).
The Chirp Wheel back roller really does work wonders for relieving back pain and tension, and thats exactly why we use it every evening after a long day.
Chirp has a list of FAQ on their website, as well as more information on the back roller wheel and some video demonstrations.
It’s also worth noting that if the Chirp Wheel doesn’t work for you as you would hope, they offer a 60-day satisfaction guarantee so you can return it.
How do you know what size Chirp Wheel is best for you?
There are now 5 different-sized Chirp Wheels, the fifth size being the Chirp Wheel XL which is their largest back roller wheel that offers the most comfort due to its wider base for added stability, and thicker foam for extra comfort as you ease the tension away.
In addition to the original ‘gentle’ 12-inch back roller wheel, there is also the ’10 inch Firm’, ‘6 inch Deep Tissue’, and the ‘4-inch Focus’ wheel sizes. You can also buy a set of all four at a reduced bundle price!
The 10 inch Firm Wheel can be used in the same way as the 12 inch Gentle Wheel and is also a little easier to use if you’re using it against a wall, rather than on the floor.
Personally, I prefer to roll on my Chirp Wheel on the floor and the 12-inch model works great for that. That said, we have the other Chirp wheels and my other favorites are the 8 inch Pro, and 6 inch wheels.
The 6 inch Deep Tissue Chirp Wheel size is described as being for ‘deep tissue’ massage, and great for neck and posture correction. As it is half the diameter of the 12-inch it’s also more portable if you’re planning on traveling with it.
Given that it is smaller it is going to give a more intense stretch, which may good for stubborn tight muscles, but also could be a bit too intense, especially if you’re new to stretching and massaging your back.
The 4 inch Focus Chirp wheel targets key pressure points in your neck to reduce tension headaches and relieve neck pain – so it’s not a back roller, it’s a neck roller!
Aside from the marketing descriptions of what each back roller wheel is best suited for, it’s also worth considering whether you may find the 12-inch back roller wheel, which is what is recommended for most people, tricky to balance on.
Assuming no physical restrictions, while it can be a bit tricky the first time you use it, it’s no longer difficult after you’ve become used to it.
It does help to place the back roller wheel and your feet on a flat, non-slip surface, which would ideally be a gym or yoga mat, but also a thick rug or carpet would still be a lot better and more comfortable than a hard floor.
Also, if you do slide off the back wheel, it would be better not to be on a hard floor!
Balancing on a Chirp Wheel – The Chirp Base
If you think you would need some extra stability and help balancing when rolling, then one of the accessories Chirp offers is designed to do just that.
The ‘Chirp Base‘ provides stability and balance support by providing a platform with a groove the width of the wheel. This also allows you to grab the sides of the base when rolling on your Chirp Wheel, to get extra leverage and pressure for a deeper massage and stretch.
You can see pictures of the base in action, and learn more, on this page of their website.
Chirp Wheel Demonstration video
Demonstrating the Chirp Wheel Pro, and the original Chirp Wheels, PLUS how they compare and which one is probably best for you…
Using the Chirp Wheel to relieve my back pain
As mentioned above, my favorite Chirp Wheel size is the largest Chirp Wheel, which is 12 inches in diameter and described by the company as ‘gentle’.
This size gives the largest overall backstretch, which is apparently best for overall pain in the upper and lower back and can also be used to stretch hips and open up your chest.
I like to breathe out while rolling on the back wheel along my back from my lower back up to the shoulders.
I find I get a better release of tension on the exhale, and it’s more relaxing, especially when I do this in conjunction with breathing and yoga exercises.
If you have similar back tension to what both Helen and I experience, due to time spent sitting at a computer without always holding the best posture, then you should experience a release of back tension, accompanied with some satisfying ‘clicks’ in the back.
It goes without saying, but I’ll say anyway that anyone considering using such a massage tool should of course consider whether you need to consult a professional before using it 😉
I’m quite possibly in love with my Chirp Wheel. I love such things that you can use every day that are so simple and yet do such a good job.
Both of us use this back roller wheel every day before bed, it’s wonderful after a long day, especially if there’s been a heavy day of work or a long intensive run during the day, and it’s nice to think about getting into bed having stretched and relaxed our backs ready for what will hopefully also be a good night’s sleep.
Where to buy the Chirp Wheel
If you’re interested in getting a Chirp Wheel to help fix your back pain or just for stretching your back each day like we do, you can buy all three sizes for just $99 directly from Chirp’s website via the button below.
This bundle is also available from Amazon via the second button below but it’s a little more expensive.
Chirp Focus Muscle Roller review
For $29.99, I think the overall effectiveness of the Chirp Focus muscle roller system is very good.
In fact, it’s much better than I imagined it would be, due to the premium build quality and how solidly the 4″ roller wheel clicks into the handle system.
The total weight of the Focus roller handle and 4″ wheel combined is 7.2oz. It actually feels heavier than I was expecting but this weight does give this muscle roller a nice sturdy feel.
Other than this, the muscle rolling system is a great dual use for the 4″ neck roller wheel – and rolling muscles with a system like this seems to be a very effective way to target various muscle groups in a what that Chirps wheels cannot.
Chirp Wheel Review Summary
Other Suggestions to Help With Back Pain
If you suffer from lower back pain when running we’ve written a whole post on that topic that will help you recover from that.
But if you generally get back pain from day-to-day activities like being on your feet all day at work, maybe you’re a nurse, or work in a shop for example, or you spend a lot of the day sitting in a chair due to having a desk job then read on for more tips to help fix your back pain.
While these aren’t alternatives to the chirp back roller wheel, we have used each of the suggestions below which have complemented our use of the Chirp Wheel in helping us relieve our varying degrees of back pain.
I’m mentioning these suggestions as they’re each definitely worth exploring if you’ve landed on site looking for ideas to help you, too.
Compex TENS muscle stimulator – we’ve been users of the Compex TENS machines for many years, and it can do many things including helping with pain and relieving muscle tension.
On Running Shoes – have you thought about whether your shoes are affecting your posture and your back?
As the #1 reviewer of On Running Shoes on the web, I can tell you that the super lightweight and comfortable On Cloud is a great style of everyday lifestyle trainers that is popular with people who spend a lot of their day on their feet, such as medical professionals and servers.
For more about On Running shoes, visit our On Running Shoes overview page.
Also have a look around our website using the menus above – we’ve reviewed so much fitness equipment, including recovery tools and products such as green juice drinks that you may find other things that help you with your own wellness journey!