From desk jobs to sports injuries, back pain is a common complaint across all age groups and cultures. In fact, back pain statistics are pretty staggering with over 540 million worldwide suffering from back pain. Oof. 1 Those numbers are more painful than listening to Joe Biden’s latest gaffe . Unfortunately for me, I’m now one of those back pain sufferers.
As someone who has literally had to crawl out of bed, onto the floor, and then use the bed to help stand up, well, let me tell you, it sucks. Hell, I’d rather go to an Antifa rally dressed in head-to-toe MAGA gear 2while calling them “groomers” instead of having to go thru that again. But I digress.
Anyways, while I’ve been able to address my back problems (somewhat) effectively via chiropractic appointments, mobility exercises and tools, and core strengthening, it does rear its ugly head occasionally.
Originally seen on ABC’s hit show Shark Tank, the Chirp Wheel aims to ameliorate the all-too-common back pain by allowing you to roll your way to relief. Or so they claim. So how well does it work? Should you buy one? Well, I answer all that (and more!) down below.
And, just to be clear, this review is not sponsored in any way, shape, or form. I actually spent $95 to buy the Chirp Wheel 3 pack (an extra $30 gets you the 4 pack!). So, let’s get the Chirp Wheel review started…
About the Chirp Wheel
Similar to a traditional foam roller, the Chirp Wheel is a durable roller wheel that is designed for back pain relief. Coming in multiple wheel sizes – 12″, 10″, and a 4″ – it is also the only wheel on the market that is FDA-registered as a Class 1 medical device.
It is simple and easy to use the Chirp Wheel. All you have to do is place the roller wheel on the ground – it can support up to 500 pounds – then lie on it. Your feet should be on the ground, while the wheel is sitting between your shoulder blades. Then slowly roll up and down the wheel.
Each wheel has 1/2 inch thick padding, is 5 inches wide and boasts a patent pending “Spinal Canal”, which is really just marketing-speak for a central groove located in the middle of the wheel. The idea is that the groove makes the wheel more comfortable to use as it relieves pressure from your spinal cord as you use the wheel.
Evaluating (Chirp Wheel review)
- Construction – Is it well built or does it feel cheaply made?
- Ease of use – Is the product intuitive?
- Effectiveness – Does it work well?
- Value – Are you getting your money’s worth?
Testing the Chirp Wheel
As I mentioned, it’s very easy to use the Chirp Wheel — just lay on it with the wheel situated between your shoulder blades and then roll away. And, that’s exactly what I did. Think of a it as a almost fool-proof foam roller that’s limited to the mid or upper back. I didn’t (and wouldn’t) use it on the low back as it’s too uncomfortable for that.
I tested all 3 intermittently for a couple weeks, usually starting with largest wheel to loosen up and then progressively going smaller to get deeper into my back.
One note: if lying on the wheel is too intense, you can do the same thing with the wheel on a wall and with you standing. In that scenario, your body weight is no longer driving into the wheel which produces less pressure on your back.
Ease of Use
So it is super simple to use any of the 3 Chirp Wheels – just position it between your shoulder blades and go. Since they’re all 5″ wide, it’s fairly easy to stay balanced (and not fall off to one side) while rolling.
That said, I wish it were another inch or two wider as it can be a little bit “tippy”. For example, if you’re using it on some really high-pile carpet it can make the balance part a little tricky as the carpet prevents it from sitting directly on a firm surface. It can also feel a bit tippy if your overall balance isn’t great.
It wasn’t a big deal for me – just move it to a flat surface – but something to keep in mind if you’re going to use it consistently.
Construction is solid. I like that it has a 500 lb. weight capacity and the foam padding – while not thick – is dense yet comfortable.
The wheels are also pretty attractive with the light, baby blue inner ring and black surface padding. Everything feels good and I didn’t notice any obvious flaws or potential issues with durability.
While you could potentially use them with light weights, I wouldn’t due to the inherent instability of a moving wheel. Anyways, as long as you’re using responsibly, they should last a very long time; well beyond the 60-day warranty period.
In using the two larger wheels – the 12″ and 10″ – I experienced quite a few pops or cracks coming from my back. While those didn’t relieve pain by itself, it did result in better upper and middle back mobility 4 sometimes referred to as the thoracic spine.
And if you’re overly tight in the upper back, it can definitely impact shoulder health (and shoulder pain), neck pain, and other things. After all, everything is connected.
While it didn’t directly lessen muscle pain – a massager works well for that – I do think it helped relieve tension on my back. While I wouldn’t go as far as calling it a posture corrector, I do think it helped with spinal mobility.
By simply lying back and opening up your arms overhead or to the side, it also works well as a front body opener. Meaning, you should feel a nice stretch across your chest and shoulders and maybe even your abdomen and hip flexors once you relax.
Most people, especially office workers, are way too tight across the front of their body and this can definitely help counter-balance your body.
As for massaging out tight muscles or getting a deeper massage, the bigger wheels won’t do much; the smaller 6 inch wheel is designed to apply more localized pressure for that. And I do think it helped on some tight back muscles some but it’s very limited in that regard.
With the Chirp Wheel you’re limited to just a tiny area surrounding your spine. Because of that’s it’s really difficult to relieve pressure across the width of your back or otherwise generate a lot of movement.
Value is always subjective but this is pretty tough to rate. On one hand, the Chirp Wheel 3 pack lists for $100 which – let’s face it – is pretty expensive for some hard ABS plastic and rubber-like padding 5 technically called ethylene vinyl acetate.
On the other hand, as anyone with back issues knows, $100 is cheap if it actually helps your issue. As of right now, I appreciate the back popping and lessened back tension but I don’t think it will “fix” my back issues and some physical therapists agree with that.
But I think the word “fix” misses the point. The wheel needs to be just another tool in the toolbox with the goal to improve – not fix – back health.
So is it worth $100? Only time will tell for certain but I’m a bit skeptical. Worth noting: if you don’t want or need the three different sizes, you can simply buy a single wheel that fits the size you do want. Scroll down a bit for more on yoga wheels…
Chirp Wheel Alternatives
You can mimic the Chirp Wheel with just a couple other tools that you may already have:
- Stability Ball – also great for opening up your front body parts and a gentle stretch thru the mid-back
- Foam Rollers – I’m going to harp on this some more but foam rollers are just more versatile overall and also much better add massaging muscles and trigger points.
And, yeah, I read a few reviews saying you can’t get the same impact using those…but I disagree. I have them all and while it won’t be exactly the same, you’re 80%+ of the way there albeit with far less convenience.
Chirp Wheel vs Foam Roller
A foam roller is just a much more versatile tool and if I had to pick one then the foam roller it is. While there’s tons of foam rollers on the market, I love using my Grid roller and have had it for a loooong time without problems.
That said, I do like the stretch from the large wheel diameter of the two bigger Chirp Wheels. That stretch is much better than the one I get from the Grid due to the larger size.
Rather than rehash the pros and cons, here’s a quick table to summarize my between the two:
|Back Pain Relief
Chirp Wheel vs Yoga Wheel
This Chirp Wheel review wouldn’t be complete without pointing out the fact that the Chirp Wheel is really just a yoga wheel with some better marketing. Yoga wheels have been used by yogis as props for help in particular poses, including the aptly named Wheel Pose 6 which I suck at.
There are tons of different yoga wheels and you can get them individually or in sets. If you’re looking to save some money or you don’t need multiple sizes and you’re interested in the Chirp Wheel, keep that in mind.
So does the Chirp Wheel work? Well, in short, it depends on what you use it for.
Like most other tools, the Chirp Wheel is good in particular situations and not as good at others. As a convenient way to quickly stretch out your back and spine, open up your front body, and relieve tension, it definitely helps. As a way to get a deep tissue massage or alleviate key pressure points throughout your body, it does not.
And while it’s not strictly designed to do those last couple items, the overall usefulness of the Chirp Wheel is limited to those wanting an item to (possibly) help with back pain and back mobility.
You should be able to mimic the effects with a stability ball and foam roller but if you don’t have either of those or their not accessible to use often, then it’s worth a shot. I can’t guarantee it will work but with 60 days to try it out, what have you got to lose?
Is the Chirp Wheel Good For Sore Muscles?
While the Chirp Wheel can help massage sore muscles along your spine, the design doesn’t really work for deep tissue massage. Foam rollers are a better choice for muscle relief.
Is the Chirp Wheel Good For Sciatica?
Sciatica – pain that travels along the path of the sciatic nerve – typically starts in the lower back and travels down to the legs. While there’s no definitive way to know without trying, it is unlikely to help that specific condition as the Chirp Wheel is designed for mid to upper back relief.
What Size Chirp Wheel Should I Get?
That depends on how big of a stretch you’d like to get. The two larger wheels – the 12″ and 10″ – are gentle on the back and provide the greatest stretch. The smaller wheel is better when focusing on specific parts of your spine or neck.
Where Can I Buy the Chirp Wheel?
The Chirp Wheel is available in a lot of big box stores including Amazon, Wal-Mart, Target, etc. as well as sports stores such as Academy and Scheels.