Stepping off the sticky sidewalk at 16th and Mission streets and into a dark room with lilac walls and matching shag carpet, you might think you walked into the wrong kind of massage parlor. But make no mistake, Ekaterina Pushkarnaya, owner and sole proprietor of Pain Relief Massage, is an expert at loosening knotted muscles and stiff joints.

These days, tech workers make up roughly half her clientele, and she’s not alone. Turmoil in the tech industry has been well documented with rolling rounds of layoffs over the last two years. Extreme interest, investment and the drama around artificial intelligence seem to have only added to the stress of being a San Francisco techie in 2024, as even with a reduced local workforce, health spa workers say their client loads are higher than in pre-pandemic days.

The Standard spoke to five practitioners in the Mission, nearly all of whom say at least half of their clients work in tech. Tech worker customers all gripe about the same set of ailments: lower back pain, stiff shoulders and necks, and soreness in their wrists, hands, or forearms. The physical nature of their roles, coupled with the common denominator of stress, is more than likely to blame for their issues. The Mission is home to a bunch of tech companies and their work-from-home or hybrid staffers, who don’t have to look far for muscular relief.

Business people told The Standard they often figure out their clients’ occupations through intake forms, as most are tight-lipped about their personal and professional lives.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here