Could the Chirp Wheel massage wheels help relieve your niggling back pains?
Cyclists frequently suffer from back pain. Imbalanced and tight muscles, high training loads, changing terrain, and multiple bikes with different positions all contribute to pain for most of us at some point during the cycling season. Chirp – a company that started in a college dorm room and secured funding on the American television show Shark Tank – aims to remedy back pain with innovative wheel massage systems.
Chirp wheels are available in several sizes and formats. The wheels vary from a few inches in diameter to almost a foot. This size range allows the user to use the wheel where the pain emanates from, ranging from the lower back to the neck. Although all wheels have the same construction – featuring a hard plastic inner liner with a soft foam wrapping – the foam is available in different formats; Gentle is a compliant, thicker foam, Focus is their hardest smooth foam, while XR offers a knobby form for kneading the deepest knots. All Chirp wheels include a channel down the middle of the wheel to accommodate the user’s spine as the outer parts of the wheel work the muscles.
Chirp sent us two packages for testing: The Chirp Wheel XR 3-pack and the Chirp Wheel Pro, a motorized, vibrating wheel. The wheels arrived at the end of the Colorado mountain bike season. After several months of punishing enduros, weeklong stage races, and lengthy marathons, our lower backs and necks were sore, tight, and ready for relief. We found that Chirp Wheels were simple yet effective tools for helping ease tightness and pain. The wheels also support up to 500 lbs, so Chirp wheels will work for most heights and weights.
Using a Chirp wheel is easy for anyone. The user sits semi-reclined on the floor, resting on the wheel. As the user lifts their hips and slides back, the wheel rolls down their back, pushing into their muscles using body weight.
Chirp Wheel XR
The Chirp XR wheels use a stiff foam covered in half spheres and pyramids. These shapes dig deeply into the back, pressing against and relieving tight or knotted muscles. The three-pack includes:
- Wheel sizes of 4 inches for the neck.
- 6 inches for knot removal.
- 10 inches for a deep acupressure massage.
We used the XR wheels daily for several weeks during the mountain bike season. We found they were good for tight lower back muscles in particular. The wheels worked out knots with 5-10 minutes of consistent use. We also found the XR wheels were easy to travel with. The wheel is hollow and light, so packing one wheel didn’t consume any space in a carry-on bag.
The Chirp Pro wheel uses a smooth, thicker foam on the outside of a large 8-inch wheel. The wheel features an electric vibrating 3-speed motor and a rechargeable battery built into the center of the device. Chirp claims a 2-hour battery life: In several weeks of testing, we only had to charge the wheel once for a few hours.
If the XR wheels are a more intense experience, the Pro Wheel is a soothing one. We found it was best suited for one of two scenarios. First, when back muscles were extremely tight, the vibration and smooth surface of the Pro allowed us to ease the muscles before we used the XR wheels. Second, the Pro is useful for relaxing maintenance sessions when the user needs a light massage.
Would we recommend Chirp Wheels, and if we had to buy one of the two tested systems with our $100-ish, which would we choose? If you’re using the wheel at home and have less severe muscle knots or pain, we’d recommend the Chirp Pro. It’s suitable for most situations and is a relaxing experience. If you’re a frequent traveller however, the design and light weight of the non-motorized wheels is a benefit. We’d choose either the smooth or XR wheels, depending on the frequency and depth of pain.
We’d recommend Chirp wheels. They’re simple in design, but relieve muscle pain within a short time. If used daily, we also suffered less pain during consecutive rides.