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Chirp Wheel

If you are a runner, you are likely intimate with such household items as lacrosse balls and rolling pins, perhaps even a broom or mop handle. There are the more civilized foam rollers and stretchy bands, bendable sticks and powered massagers on the market too. There are many available products and in our closets to work out the soft tissue issues of being an active endurance athlete. Various contraptions are “out there” to assist your deep muscle massage, but the Chirp brand comes in with high praise.

We work out the niggles, kinks and trigger points in the lower legs, quads, glutes, lower back and while you are at it: everywhere else, because it just feels really good.

Runners tend to develop knots, scar tissue, tightness and muscle attachment area stress. It is the runner’s injury avoidance fandango.

Recently — sent to Athletics Illustrated — is a product brand that has been on the market for several years called Chirp. The company was founded by Utah native Tate Stock who is an alum of Brigham Young University.

Stock is the founder and CEO of Plexus Yoga, LLC., doing business as or DBA as “Chirp.” He self-funded the Plexus Wheel, during university. It is a lightweight wheel designed to stretch one’s back and shoulders. Stock spent approximately $100,000 on business development, while at Brigham Young. It’s a great startup story, but the product, for its intended purpose, is dead simple and once rolling on the wheel, you will be as mesmerized by the concept as you will be by the design. You may even ask yourself, “Why did I not think of this?”

Simply stated, it is a hard plastic wheel, with a foam outer layer and space in the middle, so the spine does not have direct pressure. Relax, while you lay your body weight fully on the wheel; rolling back and forth or simply being still and decompressing. The magic is in the simplicity.

Four different-sized wheels arrive in a package that includes a carry case. The product is aesthetically pleasing and dead simple to use.

Keep in mind, while the user will find that the wheels (which come in 12″, 10″, 6″ and 4″ diameter sizes) indeed massage and perhaps stretch the back, there is no medical advice in this review. Please see a qualified medical professional. It is anecdotally speaking very good for relief of tight back muscles and gently finding trigger points.

One thing to keep in mind while rolling is that your shirt may roll up as you move back and forth (on your back). This is great if you have a six-pack, but if not, you may want to grab the bottom of your shirt and keep it from rolling up. The shirt thing is not a hassle and not a game changer. This may happen with all wheels/rollers on the market, just a minor thing to keep in mind.

The rubber layer is 11mm thick. Soft enough to protect the body from the hard plastic, but still firm enough to enjoy the “massage-like” effect.

These units are firmer than the more common foam rollers but much kinder than grandma’s rolling pin — ouch.

After several sessions, the product has earned a recommendation from Athletics Illustrated. At $166 for all four, it is priced well, however, you may purchase singles of the size(s) you prefer.

Chirp 3-in-1 Muscle Roller

The Chirp 3-in-1 Muscle Roller again is a simple product but very well-designed.

At first blush, the user may think that it is just like any other roller. But, its attendant effect is based on the effort one puts into it. You eventually find the sore muscle or trigger point and then work away at it. However, the smarts are in the locking mechanism, where you can easily pinch the tabs, pull the roller off and exchange with another.

The FOCUS XR exchangeable roller is the most aggressive. If you use this one, seeking a trigger point, you may yelp, or perhaps chirp when you find it. It’s firm, and the peaks are well separated. As there are soft tissue reactions to massage and ART, expect a response with the FOCUS XR, if you work a sore point hard. The daily dose may be a bit too much, so employ the adaptation protocol: stimulus, recover, adapt, become stronger. And just for fun, go at it again, when ready. It works well and the rewards have been immediate specifically with the author’s very tight quad and adductor muscle on the inside of the thigh.

The FOCUS + and FOCUS SPORT rollers are much less aggressive but can be pugnacious if one allows their body weight to do the work.

The grips are grippy; your hands will not slip.

The FOCUS + is really just another 4″ Chirp Wheel and the FOCUS SPORT is a 4″ cousin without the spine support valley.

Of the three, the author sees the most value in both the well-engineered locking/exchange mechanism and the FOCUS XR roller itself — it is very much worth the price of admission.

The products are available for purchase HERE.