There is no quad soreness quite so acute as the one you get after a hard day surfing or swimming with weights in a pool. So when Laird Hamilton gave Gabby Reece a “wow”-inducing lower-body massage using a buzzing, cylindrical device, our interest was piqued.
The MyoBuddy Massager Pro is like an electric floor sander for your body (according to Hamilton) and makers claim it can ease muscle soreness and myofascial pain almost everywhere: abs, pecs, traps, lats, wrists, groin — be careful around that groin — and more. Plus, it purports to “reduce stress, anxiety and insomnia.” That's some body-sander!
Mobility is a buzzword, and your gym floor is no doubt littered with rollers, balls, et al, designed for just this issue. The term "myofascial release" simply means focusing on myofascial tissue, “the tough membranes that wrap, connect and support your muscles,” writes Brent A. Bauer, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic. Part of the idea is that muscle fatigue alone doesn’t account for all soreness and pain, and that taking the tension off myofascial tissue brings relief, especially when you’re working to push your body harder (adding more miles; lifting more weight).
The MyoBuddy will set you back $400. Worth it? Maybe not. “The name suggests it’s for myofascial and muscle relief, but it’s a completely superficial tool — it doesn’t affect muscles as much as skin,” says Paul Ochoa, DPT, an orthopaedic specialist and physical therapist in New York City, who purchased and tested a MyoBuddy at the behest of a colleague.
“Myofascial work is a very slow process,” says Ochoa, explaining that when a therapist works to release myofascial tissue, it's literally a painstaking process. “You go past the subcutaneous [outer] layer, and into what you would feel is the fascial layer, looking for restrictions in different directions. You can go either into the direction or into the opposite direction of fascia, and you get a release called ‘creep’— a slow increase into that barrier of movement.”
A general sweep over a muscle area, which is the technique used by the MyoBuddy, isn’t going to bring about that myofascial release. Bottom line, says Ochoa: “It does feel nice, but it’s not therapeutic.”