The Magic Of Mindful Meditation At Massage Sonoma

At Massage Sonoma, I spend a significant amount of my time acting as health educator for my clients. After all, we spend such a small percentage of a full day exercising or in the treatment room. What can we do with the rest of our day that will positively impact our quality of life? Nutrition and exercise are receiving an enormous amount of attention from the public and from the health care community. And rightly so! While these two components of healthy living do impact our quality of life, I’m often surprised at how little attention is given to mental health. If I am working with a client who is on the right track with exercise and nutrition, but is still complaining about stress and anxiety, I may suggest looking into mindfulness and mindful breathing.

The practice of mindfulness and mindful breathing is not new. When I speak to people about mindfulness Son, I suggest a number of resources for getting acquainted with mindful breathing and the practice of living mindfully. Like the field of sports medicine, there are many approaches to getting started and practicing. Sometimes, simply sharing the benefits of mindful breathing is enough to get someone started. One of my clients recently said, “There have been two major and life changing events in my life. The first was having children. The second was discovering mindfulness”. In the spirit of this person’s experience, I would like to share the following information compiled by Loretta Lanphier at OAW Health

Studies have shown that practicing mindfulness of which mindful breathing is a part, even for just a short period of time, can bring a variety of physical, psychological, and social benefits. Below are some of these benefits.

  • Immune System: A seminal study found that, after just eight weeks of training, practicing mindfulness meditation boosts our immune system’s ability to fight off illness.
  • Good for the mind: Several studies have found that mindfulness increases positive emotions while reducing negative emotions and stress. One study suggests mindful breathing is as effective as antidepressants in fighting depression and preventing relapse.
  • Mindfulness changes our brains: Research has found that it increases density of gray matter in brain regions linked to learning, memory, emotion regulation, and empathy.
  • Focus: Studies suggest that mindfulness helps us tune out distractions and improves our memory and attention skills.
  • Compassion: Mindfulness fosters compassion and altruism. Research suggests mindfulness training makes us more likely to help someone in need and increases activity in neural networks involved in understanding the suffering of others and regulating emotions. Evidence suggests it might boost self-compassion as well.
  • Relationships: Mindfulness enhances relationships. Research suggests mindfulness training makes couples more satisfied with their relationship, makes each partner feel more optimistic and relaxed, and makes them feel more accepting of and closer to one another.
  • Parenting: Mindfulness is good for parents and parents-to-be. Studies suggest it may reduce pregnancy-related anxiety, stress, and depression in expectant parents. Parents who practice mindfulness report being happier with their parenting skills and their relationship with their kids, and their kids were found to have better social skills.
  • Schools: Mindfulness helps schools. There’s scientific evidence that teaching mindfulness in the classroom reduces behavior problems and aggression among students, and improves their happiness levels and ability to pay attention. Teachers trained in mindfulness also show lower blood pressure, less negative emotion and symptoms of depression, and greater compassion and empathy.
  • Health Care Professionals: Mindfulness helps health care professionals cope with stress, connect with their patients, and improve their general quality of life. It also helps mental health professionals by reducing negative emotions and anxiety, and increasing their positive emotions and feelings of self-compassion.
  • Prison Inmates: Mindfulness helps prisons. Evidence suggests mindfulness reduces anger, hostility, and mood disturbances among prisoners by increasing their awareness of their thoughts and emotions, helping with their rehabilitation and reintegration.
  • Veterans & PTSD: Mindfulness helps veterans. Studies suggest it can reduce the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the aftermath of war.
  • Obesity: Mindfulness fights obesity. Practicing “mindful eating” encourages healthier eating habits, helps people lose weight, and helps them savor the food they do eat.
  • Cancer Treatment: According to the National Cancer Institute, mind-body treatment techniques such as mindful breathing may improve patient well-being and help reduce the sometimes harmful side effects of traditional treatments.

I hope you found this information helpful. Please feel to reach out to us at Massage Sonoma and Sonoma Personal Trainers. We’re here for you 7 days a week online, by phone or email… and of course in the treatment room!

Anthony Drohan. Massage Therapist & Personal Trainer

Massage Sonoma

How Massage Sonoma Is Helping Their Clients Reach For The Stars Again

Joint pain is more common now than it was 50 years ago. At the same time, our lifestyles are more sedentary than ever. That’s no coincidence. Joint mobility and stability is enhanced with movement and load bearing activities. Even when we’re injured, one of the most important aspects of healing is to quickly and safely begin using our bodies again. My favorite trainer in Sonoma consistently uses the catch phrases “motion is lotion” and “use it or lose it”. These two concepts have served my clients well. Here’s how I’m helping my clients reach for the stars again at Massage Sonoma.

Education: Age, Injuries And Sedentary Lifestyles.

  • Age: As we age, our joints tend to tighten, making range of motion and flexibility more restricted. As muscles age, they begin to shrink and lose mass. The water content of tendons, the cord-like tissues that attach muscles to bones, also decreases as we age. This makes these tissues stiffer and less able to tolerate stress. This is a natural process, but a sedentary lifestyle can accelerate it. Developing a ROM, flexibility and strength maintenance program with your personal trainer is critical for staying healthy and mobile. Working with your therapist and personal trainer at Massage Sonoma is a great way to get started!
  • Injuries: Acute and repetitive stress injuries are a way of life. Fortunately, a vast majority of these injuries heal when addressed appropriately. Today, health care professionals are focused on getting their clients up and moving as quickly as possible. Being aware of injuries as they occur and having a plan for managing them will help you heal sooner than later. Regain your strength, range of motion and active lifestyle by addressing injuries with your health professionals. Acquire your diagnosis and plan of action for recovery and diligently follow their advice for a quick recovery.
  • Sedentary Lifestyle. Trying to protect your joints by living a sedentary lifestyle? You’re likely doing more harm than good. Living a sedentary lifestyle can make you sick. The medical community has made strong links between diseases such as cancer, diabetes, depression, insomnia, obesity, high blood pressure and that’s right, joint pain! At the very least, staying active will increase your range of motion and muscular strength while reducing pain and injuries. Pushing your joints through their full range of motion increases the flexibility of all your soft tissues including tendons, ligaments and muscle. Furthermore, joints that are used regularly maintain healthy levels of fluid needed for cushioning and pain free motion.

Action. Moving your joints through their full ROM can be accomplished two ways. Either by you or by a health provider. Both methods have benefits. At Massage Sonoma, we can provide you with both! Here’s how.

  • On Your Own. Pushing your joints through their full range of motion takes joint mobility and muscular strength. No one can develop strength for you. So, adopting a safe flexibility, joint mobility and strength training program is a good first step. Once your healthcare providers have given you the thumbs up, think about how to maintain this with an active lifestyle. For example, swimming can effectively move most of your joints through their full range of motion while providing you with a fun and effective workout. The possibilities are endless!
  • By Your Therapist. Range of motion treatments are movements administered by physical therapists or massage therapists and personal trainers with special training. These treatments are sometimes used when a client cannot perform a movement on their own. Passive treatments (movements performed by your therapist or trainer) move the affected joints to keep their range of motion in tact or to increase range of motion in restricted joints. These treatments improve circulation, reduce swelling and improve muscle and joint function. Incorporating massage can improves blood flow to the affected area and reduces pain and swelling. Passive range of motion treatments and stretching can provide fuller movements with less pain when performed properly by your therapist.

Massage therapy, assisted range of motion and assisted stretching are all beneficial treatments for maintaining and improving flexibility and motion. Regular massage and stretch can improve your flexibility and range of motion, keeping your joints fluid and making them less prone to injury. As an added benefit, massage is a great way to relax tense muscles, stimulate blood flow and improve flexibility. Plus it feels great. Coupling this with an active lifestyle is just one more way for you to avoid pain and feel better. We have so much more information on how you can take care of you. We hope you will reach out to us to learn more. Please don’t hesitate to contact to us at Massage Sonoma. We’re here for you 7 days a week online, by phone or email… and of course in the treatment room!

Anthony Drohan. Massage Therapist & Personal Trainer

Massage Sonoma

Sleeping Your Way To Greater Health And Fitness

Competitive athletes know intuitively why getting enough sleep is critical for their game. But what about us weekend warriors? There are a handful of topics I discuss with my clients at Massage Sonoma when they find themselves struggling to meet their fitness goals or recover from an injury. One of them is sleep. Even with the the most comprehensive training and nutrition program, making progress in areas like performance, weight loss and recovery can be impossible without proper rest. Here is what we know why.

Sleep, grow, repair. During sleep, growth hormone is produced and protein synthesis occurs (ladies…your bodies produce growth hormone just like us guys…so read on!). For men, up to 70% of their growth hormone is secreted during sleep. Resting means giving your body the time it needs to repair and build in response to the workouts you completed the days prior. Hint: there is strong evidence that eating just prior sleep allows our body to more effectively build and repair lean tissue. This could translate into fewer injuries, greater gains in muscle and ultimately better performance as an athlete. So have a snack and take a nap!

The jury is out, poor sleep causes weight gain. Without going too deeply into the stress hormones, it’s fair to say that maintaining a healthy body fat percentage or losing weight while getting poor sleep is very difficult. The hormones leptin, ghrelin and cortisol impact food cravings in three very distinct and powerful ways. This includes not feeling full or lack of satiety after eating, craving food more intensely and more often than you should and craving the worst foods for your diet. That’s a triple whammy!

The sandman sabotages your workouts. If by some miracle your able to eat well, it’s likely that your active lifestyle is going to suffer when your not sleeping enough. This happens for two reasons. First, a well rested body benefits from body chemistry that provides us with more energy (if you want to research the effects of sleep deprivation on adenosine and ATP levels in your body, go for it!). Having the energy and stamina to move effectively in your workouts means achieving the results you’re looking. Just as importantly, not having the energy to engage in the things you normally love to do means seeing your favorite sport or activity as a burden. So, the psychological impact on how you feel about being active can be negatively impacted. This not only applies to getting out of bed and on your feet, but to the sensation of moving. We can all relate to moving on a day when we just want to be in bed resting…it’s no fun.

Fight disease in your sleep. In short, not getting adequate sleep suppresses your immune system. Having the flu may not directly affect what you are doing in the gym, but there’s no doubt getting sick can impact your active lifestyle. Interestingly enough, having a compromised immune system doesn’t just mean getting sick more often. It also means that your body is less effective at fighting illness. This can translate into spending significantly more time recovering from illness. By the way, getting adequate rest means having the ability to fight serious health conditions such as heart disease and cancer. So, sleep well to protect yourself from disease, heal faster when you do get sick and live longer!

A good friend taught me that every day we have an opportunity to make a choice about how we are going to live the rest of our lives. For me, every day is very much like new years day and begins with a resolution. Sometimes these resolutions are new and sometimes they are repeated as friendly reminders. But they are always made with the intention of bettering my life and the lives of those around me. I invite you to consider caring for yourself this new year as one of your resolutions. As a personal trainer and massage therapist, I would be delighted to learn how rest made all the difference for you in your mission to live a healthier lifestyle. We have so much more information on how you can take care of you. We hope you will reach out to us to learn more. Please don’t hesitate to contact to us at Massage Sonoma and Sonoma Personal Trainers. We’re here for you 7 days a week online, by phone or email.

Happy New Year!


Massage Sonoma and Sonoma Personal Trainers

Massage Sonoma Discusses OTS: What Is OTS Mean To Personal Training


Overtraining Syndrome or OTS is a familiar topic among personal trainers. As a personal trainer and massage therapist who works with athletes, recognizing the signs and symptoms of OTS has helped me provide a higher level of care for my clients.  Avoiding overtraining doesn’t just keep us safe from injury. Overtraining among athletes can severely impact performance and gains, effectively halting our progress in reaching our fitness goals. Below are eight of the more common signs of overtraining. Keep your training safe and effective Sonoma!

  • Decreased Performance: If you have been training effectively, you should be hitting your fitness goals. OTS will often express itself in decreased performance in one or more of your performance indicators. For example, if you are preparing for a marathon and notice your miles taking longer to complete, your may be training too often or at intensity levels that are too high.
  • Increased Rate Of Perceived Effort: You may notice a familiar workout taking more energy to complete or more time to recover from. Using a heart rate monitor or simply keeping an eye on how your feel during a familiar workout can help clue you into this. A raised RPE will often be accompanied by an unusually high heart during and/or after your workout. Additionally, your resting heart rate may become abnormally high throughout the day regardless of your activity level.
  • Agitation And Moodiness: Overtraining will often result in high levels of stress hormones and insomnia. Poor sleep and abnormally high levels of cortisol and epinephrine can result in lack of concentration, mood swings and irritability.
  • Loss Of Appetite: When training properly, higher levels of training should correspond with an increase in appetite. However, overtraining will often leave athletes with hormonal imbalances that suppress their appetites. This may take the form of nausea, improper satiety and a general loss of appetite.
  • Insomnia: Stress hormones and pain from injuries that cannot heal will often leave athletes with OTS unable to sleep properly. We heal and grow when we sleep well. Sleeping well means getting enough sleep and sleep that is restful. Inability to sleep properly because of overtraining will likely compound the symptoms of overtraining, leaving us  at greater risk to the other harmful effects of overtraining.
  • Chronic Injury And Illness: Overtraining does not just mean more wear and tear on your body. Your immune system can become compromised by the many mechanisms of overtraining, resulting in frequent and persistent infection. Additionally, removing recovery time from your routine means your body does not have adequate time to repair soft tissue damage and grow for increased demands. If the normal aches and pains of an active lifestyle last more than a couple weeks, you may be overtraining.
  • Excessive Fatigue: Ultimately, proper training should mean an overall increase in energy and fitness. If you are overtraining, you may notice your energy begin to decline. Feeling weak throughout the day or abnormally tired on multiple days after normal rest may mean you are overtraining or undernourished.
  • Depression: Depression can affect athletes on multiple levels. Excessive fatigue can express itself as feeling sad or depressed. Additionally, the injuries and illness that often accompany OTS can sideline athletes. Even recreational athletes can feel helpless when not able to exercise. Athletes training at higher levels will often be emotionally invested in their sports and active lifestyle. Depression can become a serious challenge for athletes who can no longer compete and should talk to health care professionals if they feel hopeless at the prospect of not being able to train.

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of rest, not to mention an active lifestyle that that serves to promote wellness. Having awareness of the signs and symptoms of overtraining will not only keep you safe, but will allow you reach your fitness goals. If you or someone you know is looking for ways to rekindle their active lifestyle, give us a holler. We have a ton of ideas that will work for just about every body. And remember; we’re here for you 7 days a week online, by phone or email… and of course in the treatment room!

Anthony, Massage Therapist and Personal Trainer

Massage Sonoma

Why The Cross Trainer Athlete Excels: Massage Sonoma Talks Mixing It Up

One of the most common mistakes people make with exercise is repeating the same routine week after week. To continue to improve your fitness level and reap all the benefits of regular exercise, you need to keep your body guessing. Cross training does this for you. Massage Sonoma is here to help you understand how cross training keeps our body AND your mind invigorated!

Recover AND Build: Even the most experienced athlete will use cross training to take their fitness and performance to the next level. Including alternate and low-impact activities into your active lifestyle means more time for your body to recover and grow from your favorite sports. Additionally, cross training for multi sports means whole body strength. This means overall greater functionality and performance.

Heal: Having a wide variety of sports to choose from means you can choose what works for you when it works for you. This is critical when recovering from an injury. Sprained ankle? Your doctor may OK time in the pool after just a couple days post injury. This means you can maintain your hard earned wellness without skipping a beat. Massage Sonoma is a firm believer in the power of massage AND movement!

Avoid Burnout: Initially, breaking from a routine that has run it’s course may feel awkward. However, the psychological and physical benefits of a breakout routine are well proven. Cross training can reinspire you with your favorite sports while beating down the humdrum feeling of “obligatory” exercise. Super athletes like big wave surfer Laird Hamilton cross train aggressively and swear it up keeps them at the top their sport well into their 50’s…and beyond!

Stave Off Injury: To help prevent injury, cross training is key. Cross training helps you avoid overstressing your body by avoiding  the same activity over and over again. Additionally, being able to address balance, core strength, power, and cardiorespiratory fitness means you will be healthier and stronger in all areas of fitness. If you’re not sure where to start, sign up for a session or two with a certified personal trainer to learn the ropes.

Train Your Brain: We now know that learning new forms of movement contributes to brain health. Learning a new sport challenges your mind similarly to learning a new language or engaging in brain games. The added benefit of mind-body health via your new favorite form of exercise makes cross training a great way to challenge mind and body all at once!

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of cross training. Cross training is a simple and effective method for addressing mind and body health that works for just about everyone. If you or someone you know is looking for ways to rekindle their active lifestyle, give us a holler. We have a ton of ideas that will work for just about every body. And remember; we’re here at Massage Sonoma for you 7 days a week online, by phone or email… and of course in the treatment room!

Anthony Drohan. Massage Therapist & Personal Trainer

Massage Sonoma



What We Do At Massage Sonoma

If you have been considering bodywork at Massage Sonoma and would like to know more about which modality of massage will serve you best, please read on. There are many effective massage techniques accessible to clients today. This can make choosing the right therapist and modality of massage difficult for anyone. Take a minute to educate yourself on the different modalities of massage that might serve you best in your next session. And remember, communication with any health care provider is key for a successful appointment.

Massage Sonoma proudly offers all modalities of massage at one rate with full 60, 90 and 120 minute sessions

Swedish Massage. This is a gentle form of massage that uses long strokes, kneading and deep circular movements to help relax and energize you. Swedish massage is also very effective at helping to increase circulation and reducing swelling. Swedish can be applied at both lighter and deeper pressures. The primary objective of Swedish massage is to allow the client to feel completely relaxed and nurtured during the session and to leave feeling calmed and rejuvenated.

Deep Tissue Massage. This massage technique uses slower, more focused and deeper strokes to target deep layers of muscle and connective tissue to help with muscle tension and soreness. Deep tissue massage at Massage Sonoma can be effectively applied without pain by therapists who are proficient in this modality of massage. Primary objectives include relaxation, decreased pain from muscle tension and injury and increased range of motion.

Assisted Stretching and Neuromuscular Facilitation. Stretching has benefits similar to massage. It gets the blood flowing to overactive muscles that have contracted because of stress or immobility. Without regular stretching, muscles can spasm and shorten. Regular stretching improves your flexibility and range of motion, keeping your joints more fluid and making them less injury prone. Stretching for the entire body can be performed by itself as a complete session or added to your massage. Assisted full body stretching is passive and static stretching performed for you by your therapist. All major muscle groups are targeted with full body stretching and our clients are typically fully clothed (loose and flexible clothing). Assisted stretching is also great for helping clients identify restricted muscle groups.

Sports Massage. This is similar to Swedish massage, but geared toward people involved in sports activities to help prevent or treat injuries. Primary objectives include relaxation, decreased pain from muscle tension and injury, increased range of motion, increased flexibility, enhanced circulation and reduced swelling.

Trigger Point Massage. This massage focuses on areas of tight muscle fibers that can form in your muscles after injuries or overuse. Trigger point effectively targets muscle fibers and bundles that are restricted to relax the surrounding fascia layers and increase local circulation.

Prenatal Massage. This is another gentle form of massage that also uses long strokes, kneading and deep circular movements to help relax and energize you. Prenatal massage at Massage Sonoma is performed in the side-lying or supine (on the back) positions to protect mother and baby. Prenatal massage is also very effective at helping to increase circulation which can become compromised during pregnancy. The primary objective of prenatal massage is to allow the client to feel safe, relaxed and nurtured during the session and to leave feeling calmed, rejuvenated and free of discomfort. Additional focuses with prenatal massage may include relieving pressure in the back, hips, knees and ankles with gentle stretching.

Therapeutic massage at Massage Sonoma  is a great way to relax stressed muscles, stimulate blood flow and improve flexibility. Plus it feels great. Coupling this with an active lifestyle is  just one more way for you to avoid pain and feel better. We have so much more information on how you can take care of you. We hope you will reach out to us to learn more. Please don’t hesitate to contact to us at Massage Sonoma. We’re here for you 7 days a week online, by phone or email… and of course in the treatment room!

Anthony Drohan. Massage Therapist & Personal Trainer

Massage Sonoma

Light Your Fire. Massage Sonoma Talks Pre, Mid And Post Workout Fueling

If you’ve been focused enough to consistently spend 5 to 7 day each week engaged in effective training, you should be reaching your fitness goals. Nutrition is always a key factor in the overall success of my clients in their ability to reach their fitness goals. The topic of nutrition is broad. However, pre and post meal planning is simple and can make a huge impact in the results that you see in your training. Whether its weight loss, muscle building and toning, or performance training, pre, post and mid workout refueling can quickly and with little effort provide your body with the boost it needs to take your training to the next level.

When To Fuel

  • Pre Workout: Most experts agree that eating one hour before your workout is ideal. However, not all pre workout meals are created equal! One of the advantages of eating a blended meal before your workout is that gastric emptying occurs rapidly and your food is more readily available as your meal enters the GI tract. Sound confusing? Simply put, some blended meals digest easier and fuel your body more effectively as you exercise. Some athletes find a smoothie 30 to 45 minutes before their workout flips the switch that tells their body it’s ok to begin training.
  • Post Workout: Within 30 minutes of completing your workout. Hard core athletes will start eating as soon as they have caught their breath. I like to picture a little question mark above my head after my training session. Anthony’s Body, “What the hell did you just do to me Anthony?” Anthony, “Don’t worry about it, here’s some fuel so you can repair and get stronger…cause tomorrows another day!” All kidding aside, let your body know it has what it needs to heal, grow and perform even better for it’s next adventure. Also, consider refueling every two hours after your workout for four to six hours.

Mid Workout Fuel: If your training sessions are lasting more than one hour, it may be a good idea to eat an easily digestible snack to keep your blood glucose levels in tact. The evidence is conclusive that athletes perform better (more comfortably) when they fuel mid workout for their longer training sessions. If you think this sounds a little extreme, spend some time watching an endurance event like the Iron Man or any full marathon. The course will be lined with feeding stations for the endurance athletes who know what it takes to finish and finish strong.

What’s your fuel?

Pre, Post and Mid Workout Fuels: All pre, mid and post workout fuels should consist of a healthy source of simple carbohydrates. This is where a majority of your calories should come from with this meal. I like blueberries as part of my smoothie, which is used for all my training meals. Pre and post meals should include some protein. MPS or muscle protein synthesis is occurring all the time and your body will want to know it has the tools it needs to build and repair. Just as importantly, these meals should be easily digestible. Most athletes prefer meals low in fat, fiber and blended to minimize gastrointestinal distress, facilitate gastric emptying and be readily available to your body as a healthy source of fuel.

Certainly, your training meals will vary depending upon the duration and intensity of your workouts and your bodies specific requirements. Please speak with your nutritionist before making any changes in your diet. Just as importantly, please don’t hesitate to reach out if you decide it’s time to make a real and lasting change in your health. We provide therapeutic massage, personal training consultations and personal training, so we can address all your needs. And remember, we’re here for you 7 days a week online, by phone or by email.


Anthony Drohan

Massage Therapist and Personal Trainer

Massage Sonoma Talk Myofascial Release And The Foam Roller


Massage at Massage Sonoma and Myofascial Release: As the foam roller becomes more popular in gyms, the people visiting us at Massage Sonoma are asking how foam rolling and myofascial release helps us. Unlike the many health fads that come and go in the health industry, foam rolling and myofascial release is backed by strong preliminary evidence showing its effectiveness in reducing pain and increasing range of motion. To get a better understanding of how to perform effective foam rolling and self myofascial release, it’s important to understand our bodies fascia system. Much of the information below comes from the American Council on Exercise…Enjoy!

Fascia: Fascia is a densely woven, specialized system of connective tissue that covers and unites all of the body’s compartments. The result is a system where each part is connected to the other parts through this web of tissue. Essentially, the purpose of the fascia is to surround and support the bodily structures, which provides stability as well as a cohesive direction for the line of pull of muscle groups. Now that we understand what fascia is, we can talk about why we use the foam roller at Massage Sonoma.

Healthy Versus Hurting Fascia: : In a normal healthy state, fascia has a relaxed and wavy configuration which allows it to stretch and move without restriction. However, with physical trauma, scarring and inflammation, fascia loses its pliability. It becomes tight, restricted and a potential source of pain. Acute injuries, chronic poor posture and repetitive stress injuries can contribute to this. The end result can be excessive pressure on underlying structure, producing pain and/or restricted range of motion which in turn may induce adaptive shortening of the muscle tissue associated with it.The answer? Myofascial release.

Myofascial Release (MFR): MFR is a technique that applies pressure (and sometimes stretching) to tight, restricted areas of fascia and muscle in an attempt to relieve tension and improve flexibility. By applying pressure to a tight area, tension can be released through autogenic inhibition (a muscle’s response to the need for additional lengthening). In addition, vascular improvements have been shown to occur, which results in circulatory benefits to the targeted areas.

The Foam Roller and Myofascial Release: Commonly, clients are instructed to perform small, continuous back and forth movements on a foam roller, covering an area of 2 to 6 inches. Once a tender spot is located, maintain back and forth pressure over the tender region for 30 to 60 seconds.

Therapist Applied Myofascial Release: There are several benefits to using massage therapists trained in myofascial release. Using the foam roller sometimes requires target muscle groups to be engaged while being released. Muscle contraction can inhibit muscle and fascia release resulting in ineffective MFR. Additionally, applying pressure to target areas without causing a client significant pain can be difficult when using body weight and the foam roller. If MFR becomes too painful, muscle and the surrounding fascia layers will contract and tighten, providing less effective release. Finally, some muscle groups can be difficult to access or apply pressure with the foam roller. Myofascial release and massage at Massage Sonoma go hand in hand!

Without minimizing the benefits of myofascial release, other factors can contribute to loss of range of motion, joint and muscle pain. Talk to your personal trainer or massage therapist to get his or her opinion. I always recommend that you talk to your doctor before starting any new therapy, so please do so before using this information. Massage Sonoma provides you with this information as our way of giving you a first step on your way to wellness. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you decide it’s time to make a real and lasting change in your health. We provide massage, personal training consultations and personal training, so we can address all your needs. And remember, we’re here for you 7 days a week online, by phone or  by email.

Sincerely, Anthony Drohan

Massage Therapist and Personal Trainer

Massage Sonoma Talks Muscle, Weight Loss and You!

As a massage therapist and personal trainer, I’ve become familiar with the benefits of regular strength training. The clients I work with at Massage Sonoma who engage in resistance training as part of an active lifestyle are usually highly functional with healthy body compositions. That’s a tough observation to ignore if you’re working towards a healthy body fat percentage and wanting to stay active. Assisting my clients in the treatment room with tension, injuries and flexibility is relatively straightforward. However, helping my clients understand how to achieve weight loss goals and high levels of functional movement often requires education and personal training. While there are many components that go into healthy weight loss, strength training consistently reveals itself as a missing component in my client’s lifestyle analysis. This blog is a friendly reminder of what to look for in your resistance training program and how these tips help keep you fit on so many levels.

Massage Sonoma Says Light Your Fire! Adults who do not strength train can lose an average of 5 pounds of lean muscle tissue per decade. Conversely, previously untrained adults can increase their muscle mass by 1.4kg, increase their resting metabolic rate by 7% and reduce fat weight by 1.8 kg after just 10 weeks of resistance training. Muscle tissue not only gives us the power to do the physical things we love, they are the primary drivers of our metabolism. Burn more calories at work and at rest (including stored fat), improve physical performance AND appearance and protect your body with muscle. Its that simple.

Massage Sonoma Introduces F.I.R.S.T. First is a handy acronym to remember Frequency, Intensity, Repetitions, Sets and Type. Frequency and Intensity rank high in the FIRST acronym when applied to toning or building muscle. Experienced athletes can spend a lifetime fine tuning intensity and frequency in their sport. This is just as true for athletes working on toning or building muscle.

  • Frequency: Bodybuilders generally train major muscle groups twice a week. With the right resistance training program, major muscle groups can be worked twice over a six day split. By the way, a six day split means training six days per week. Frequency addresses rest as well as activity. 72 hours of rest (for muscle groups that have been trained) seems to be sufficient in allowing muscle to recover and remodel. Recovery and remodeling is a fancy way of saying repair, replenish and grow.
  • Intensity: Our bodies seem to grow muscle most effectively when working at certain intensity levels. Some personal trainers find intensity levels by working with their clients in the gym. One method involves having a client perform their selected exercise at the heaviest weight possible for one repetition. This weight can then be used to calculate a percentage of that intensity for a specific exercise. For toning and building, this intensity is about 70% to 80% of their one repetition maximum when used with the correct number of repetitions. When clients find themselves overwhelmed with the idea of discovering their intensity zones for resistance training, I remind them that over time, intensity usually become intuitive.

Without minimizing the importance of healthy body composition, other lifestyle factors play a crucial a role in your overall health and performance. And, a safe resistance training program involves much more than understanding frequency and intensity of exercise. As with any new journey, there is always a first step. Massage Sonoma provides you with this information as our way of giving you that first step. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you decide it’s time to make a real and lasting change in your health. We provide therapeutic massage, personal training consultations and personal training, so we can address all your needs. I always recommend that you talk to your doctor or personal trainer before starting any new exercise program, so please do so before using this information. And remember, we’re here for you 7 days a week online, by phone or by email.


Anthony Drohan

Massage Therapist and Personal Trainer

Why Human Touch Is Making A Comeback: Massage Sonoma Talks Touch


A boy runs into the street, oblivious to oncoming traffic. Suddenly, a horn blats. The child turns and runs for the safety of his parents arms. A family mourns the loss of a loved one. Family holds one another while expressing each others sympathies. A couple walks along the beach watching the sunset. They hold hands. We have all seen these scenarios in one form or another. What is it about human contact that provides us with such a powerful sense of safety, love and connection? Research on the benefits of human contact has exploded over the last decade. As technology continues to remove human contact from our daily lives, were learning just how important human touch can be for us all. Massage therapists know first hand about the power of touch and so do we at Massage Sonoma. But what about the rest of us? The following information was compiled by Ray Williams with Wired for Success. Enjoy!

Scientific research now correlates physical touch with the following important areas:

  1. Decreased violence. Less touch as a child leads to greater violence. American developmental psychologist James W. Prescott proposed that the origins of violence in society were related to the lack of mother-child bonding. Child developmental research illustrates that the absence of physical bonding and healthy attachment between an adult and child may result in lifelong emotional disturbances.
  2. Greater trust between individuals. Touch helps to bond people together. Daniel Keltner, the founding director of the Greater Good Science Center and professor of psychology at University of California, Berkeley, cites the work of neuroscientist Edmund Ross, who found that physical touch activates the brain’s orbitofrontal cortex, linked to feelings of reward and compassion. According to Keltner, “studies show that a simple touch can trigger release of oxytocin, aka ‘the love hormone.'” Our skin contains receptors that directly elicit emotional responses, through stimulation of erogenous zones or nerve endings that respond to pain, according to researchers Auvray, Myin, and Spence.
  3. Economic gain. Keltner links economic benefits to physical touch, probably because “touch signals safety and trust; it soothes. Basic warm touch calms cardiovascular stress. It activates the body’s vagus nerve, which is intimately involved with our compassionate response.” NBA teams whose players touch each other more, for example, win more games.
  4. Decreased disease and stronger immune system. Physical touch may also decrease disease. According to research conducted at the University of North Carolina, women who receive more hugs from their partners have lower heart rates and blood pressure: “Hugs strengthen the immune system…The gentle pressure on the sternum and the emotional charge this creates activates the Solar Plexus Chakra. This stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates and balances the body’s production of white blood cells, which keeps you healthy and disease free.” Research at University of California’s School of Public Health found that getting eye contact and a pat on the back from the doctor may boost the survival rate of patients with complex diseases.
  5. Stronger team dynamics. Paul Zak, author of The Moral Molecule, argues, “We touch to initiate and sustain cooperation.” He conducted a “neuroeconomics” study from which he argues that hugs or handshakes are likely to cause the release of the neurochemical oxytocin, which increases the chances that a person will treat you “like family,” even it you just met.
  6. More non-sexual emotional intimacy. Interpersonal touch has a powerful impact on our emotions. Studies have shown that a gentle brush of a woman’s arm can boost a man’s chances in love; another study showed that two-thirds of women agreed to dance with a man who touched her on the arm a second or two before making the request.
  7. Greater learning engagement. When teachers touch students platonically, it encourages their learning. French psychologist Nicolas Guéguen reports (link is external) that when teachers pat students in a friendly way, those students are three times as likely to speak up in class. Another recent study has found that when librarians pat the hand of a student checking out a book, that student says he or she likes the library more and is more likely to return.
  8. Overall wellbeing. Adults require human touch to thrive. Keltner says, “In recent years, a wave of studies has documented some incredible emotional and physical health benefits that come from touch. This research is suggesting that touch is truly fundamental to human communication, bonding, and health.” As Sharon K. Farber says, “Being touched and touching someone else are fundamental modes of human interaction, and increasingly, many people are seeking out their own professional touchers and body arts teachers—chiropractors, physical therapists, Gestalt therapists, Rolfers, the Alexander-technique and Feldenkrais people, massage therapists, martial arts and T’ai Chi Ch’uan instructors. And some even wait in physicians’ offices for a physical examination for ailments with no organic cause—they wait to be touched.”