Our patients often ask us about products that we all see on the internet. So, we bought some of these new toys to see if they can help our patients with health issues and pain. Advertisers know that you might be fooled into trying a new product because pain is a great motivator. This product might be good, and it might be terrible, and it might make your pain worse. We’re going over three different products that are pitched all the time on Facebook to see if they really hold up to what they say they’re going to do.
Now just for the record, to make sure that everyone is very clear, I was not paid anything. These are not promotional items. I paid for these from my own dollars so that I can give you a real review of what they are. I also have some alternatives for you when I think some of these products have shortcomings. So pay attention because it’s important to know not only that this product does or doesn’t live up to what it says it’s going to do, but also, is there something else that you could or maybe should be doing instead.
The Chirp Wheel
Several patients have asked me about the Chirp Wheel and another version called the Florensi Wheel. It’s a device to get some good traction in your upper back. It comes as three different wheels that can be separated, and it’s designed to create tension when you’re lying on it. You use the smaller wheel to create a very small, full curve that you’re going to lay over. We all tested these to see how well they did to get good traction in our backs and necks and lower back, how painful it was, and how much of a stretch we felt, and whether we could get our joints to cavitate.
I have a lot of patients who say, “These things are what I use between visits with you, Dr. Merrill, because these things make my spine move and click and pop,” and that’s fine. And I would argue that if you are getting good motion and feel better after using these, then go for it, because I like this one the best. I had mixed results with the different wheels, so I think it’s up to you to find which one works best for your own anatomy. For $50, these things are pretty well put together. Alternatively, you can buy a regular foam roller at Five Below, use it the same exact way behind your upper back, and get almost the same amount of tension. So, should you pay the $50 for these Chirp wheels or Florensi Yoga wheels versus just getting a good old-fashioned foam roller? Probably not.
I would start with a foam roller first, and if it’s not giving you what you’re looking for, maybe buy one of those wheels. However, the amount of pressure that it creates, I think, is maybe too much for a lot of patients, including myself. There are some caveats, as well. A foam roller is not very dangerous because when you’re lying on it, you’re really close to the floor. But with the yoga wheels, you could roll off and actually hurt yourself. So be careful if you decide to go with the yoga wheel.
The Neck Hammock
This product gets pitched to me all the time. It’s the Neck Hammock. You hook it up to the doorknob, put your head in it, and it stretches. It’s supposed to give you some good traction and relieve pain. I tried this product out- here’s how it works. You loop it onto the other side of the door, and then it hooks right in. And then you lay down so that your head goes in it, and it creates a stretch, so you just hang there while it decompresses your neck. It comes with a Do Not Disturb sign and an eye pillow so you can fall asleep while using it.
It says in the instructions that you’re supposed to have your head hanging two to four inches off the ground. So, you’re going to be hanging in a little bit of flexion. This is the opposite of what I’m trying to achieve with my patients. Flexion is what we’re trying to avoid because everyone’s falling into flexion. Patients don’t get stuck in extension. So, to relax in flexion is going to be bad for you, and more so if you end up falling asleep in flexion. I can only imagine that if you fall asleep in this thing and you wake up, you’re going to be miserable. You’re going to have a neck strain injury; you’re going to have a headache, you’re going to have tingling in your arms and hands. Be really careful with this thing, folks, because even though it doesn’t create a lot of force, being in the wrong position for a long enough time causes all kinds of pain and pathology.
Have you ever slept wrong? Have you ever slept with an extra pillow behind your head or in a different setting, maybe at a hotel where the pillow is just too firm and too big, so it forced you into flexion? It causes pain immediately. I sometimes get phone calls from patients saying, “Hey, I slept wrong one time. I need to come to see you.” So, if you fall asleep in this thing in the wrong position, it’s going to be really bad for you.
It does create a little bit of traction. It’s not as good as some of the other traction tools that I recommend, like a cervical posture pump or even a water bottle. Instead of using a Neck Hammock or something else, just using a regular 16.9-ounce water bottle, which is just the right diameter to fit right underneath your neck and force you into extension. So instead of spending the $29.99, maybe spend the 69 cents to try using a water bottle underneath your neck. And I don’t recommend going to sleep like that because it could still stretch the ligaments and the muscles, but at least you’ll be safer to do extension.
D Core Pillows
I often get questions about the best pillow brands. One of the pillow brands that we stand behind here is called the D-Core Pillow. That’s the kind that we carry here at Nightlight Chiropractic. Dr. Bass, my associate doctor, absolutely loves them. He helps to fit patients with them: he’ll make you bring your pillow in to see how it fits, and then we can gauge what kind of pillow he likes to kind of fit you into. The D-Core Pillow pushes you into a little bit of extension, and it is okay to sleep in a little bit of extension. But like I mentioned before, be careful with this Neck Hammock thing because if you fall asleep in it, you’re in flexion and not extension.
Every single month Facebook pitches a whole new crop of potentially dangerous items, but maybe with some benefits like this Florensi Wheel. You need to be really careful about what you’re trying and what’s being pitched out there because not only could it have negative side effects, but it’s much more expensive to come to see me, because if this Neck Hammock hurt you, then you’d be in really bad shape.
You can always reach me at [email protected] with all kinds of questions, whether it’s about some of these new gadgets and toys that we have, whether it’s about something related to your health, and whether it is about new mattresses. Or just to say, “Hi.” I love getting emails, so feel free to reach out.