Frequently Asked Questions


What is Massage Therapy?
What Are the Benefits of Massage?
What Causes Pain and Stress?
What is Muscle Health?


What is Massage Therapy?

What is a massage?
Massage is a combination of movements and strokes to help improve the state of one's body. It comes in many different forms and each form serves an individual purpose. Massage can include very light touch, deep touch and anything in between. It falls in to a category of bodywork, which is basically what it says - massage. Massage is work on the body to improve the overall health and vitality of a person's body and mind. top

What is the difference between a
back rub and regular massage therapy?

A back rub is something that anyone can do. Back rubs may feel good, but they don't give you the healthy benefits of a massage done by a trained professional. Massage therapy requires training and skill. A massage therapist has extensive knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the human form, and uses this knowledge to skillfully manipulate the tissues of the body. top

How do I choose a massage therapist
and what does it mean to be certified?

When searching for a massage therapist it is important to find someone who has gone through extensive training in massage techniques as well as anatomy and physiology. To be certified by the State of California, a practitioner has to complete a required amount (720) hours of training and practice. In San Francisco, a massage therapist also has to have a permit to practice massage. The permit also requires a certain number of hours of training, but not nearly as many as the state requirements. top

What does a massage feel like?
A massage includes several sensations and the same massage can feel different for one person from another. Massage can be relaxing or invigorating. It is best to talk to your massage therapist before your massage in order to express what you want from the experience. If you are sensitive to pressure, bruise easily or have any other concerns, it is very important that you discuss these topics before getting your massage. The best way to get a great massage is to let your massage therapist know what you are looking for, what you are expecting and what you like. top

Does a massage hurt or tickle?
Massage on normal healthy tissue a massage should not be painful. On areas of injury or chronic pain some discomfort may be felt, but should diminish in a few moments time. Remember, no pain, no gain is not a true statement. If you are in discomfort, let your massage therapist know so that they can adjust the pressure. A massage also should not tickle. If you are feeling ticklish, let you massage therapist know, so that the pressure can be changed, or some time can be taken to help you relax more. Often being ticklish is a result of nervousness or tension and taking several deep breaths will help alleviate the ticklishness. top

What is the massage environment
at Relax and Renew Massage?

At Relax and Renew Massage, the decor is very calming and inviting. Soothing music is always playing and you will feel instantly welcomed upon entering. top

How long does a massage session
last and how much does it cost?

Massage prices can vary widely depending upon the establishment where you are getting the massage. Generally speaking, an hour of Swedish style massage can range from $60 to $85. For a full list of massage pricing please see the Rates Page. The best amount of time for most massages is an hour and a half. Unfortunately, most people don't have enough time in their day to devote that amount of time to a massage. If that is the case, than any length of massage is better than no massage. If you only have a half hour for yourself, you should use if for a half-hour massage. You will not regret the benefits you get from taking this time. top

Is massage oil or lotion
always involved in a massage?

Most massages involve oil or lotion. All massage oils and lotions are vegetable oil based and non-hypoallergenic. There are several exceptions to the use of oil or lotion. For example, Shiatsu does not use any lubricant. top

What do I do or think
about during my massage?

During a massage you should relax. If you feel uncomfortable, then tell your practitioner because above all else you want to be able to relax. If your body position needs to be changed, your massage therapist will let you know. Try to keep breathing deep, natural breaths. top

How will I feel after the
massage and what should I do?

For some people the effects of massage are experienced immediately, while other will feel less of a dramatic change in their bodies. Most people feel very relaxed after their massage, which makes it important to get up and adapt to reality slowly. After the initial relaxation period, a lot of people feel energized. In addition, many feel weeks and months of muscle tension and stress have been lifted off their bodies. Muscle aches and pains can be eliminated immediately for some, but for others it may take several sessions to feel the relief from pain and tension. It is very important to drink plenty of water after your massage and to try not to do any vigorous physical exercise after your massage. top

What happens at my first appointment,
and what questions will I have to answer?

At your first massage you will be asked to answer a series of questions relative to the massage, such as your name, age, and medical history. It is very important that these questions be answered truthfully as massage is not appropriate for everyone. In most cases the questions will involve recalling the types of massage you had in the past, what type of massage you prefer, who to contact in case of an emergency and so on. Your first massage at Relax and Renew Massage is the only session that you are guaranteed to have to fill out some paper work. This should only take about 5 minutes. top

Will insurance cover the cost of my massage?
Unfortunately in most cases, massage is not covered by medical insurance. It is best to check with your insurance carrier to see if massage is one of the benefits that they offer. Workers Compensation, primary car insurance and personal injury prevention insurance are the most likely to cover massage in the case of an accident. Again, check with your insurance to see if they offer compensation. top


What are the benefits of massage?

Should I get a massage if I am in pain?
If you are in pain due to muscle or joint dysfunction, than it is highly recommended that you get a massage. If you are having any questions about the type of pain you are experiencing, please consult your doctor to eliminate any possibilities of a more serious source of pain. Massage overall will help release the muscles that are generally causing you pain and help them to begin healing. top

Should I get a massage
even if I am not in pain?

Definitely. You should never wait until you are in pain before you get a massage. The best time to get a massage is before the pain returns. If you have a specific injury that is causing you pain, it is best that you check with your doctor before getting a massage. In many cases shoulder, neck and back pain is caused by stress and this is the pain that you want to reduce or eliminate through massage. top

How does massage therapy
help me to “learn how to relax”?

Massage can help you learn to relax by giving yourself a time out during your day. Generally we are always going going, and don't allow ourselves to relax like we should. As a result the body is constantly in “go mode” and eventually forgets what “slow mode” is. Defenses are eventually set up by the mind and the body against relaxing and as a result massage has to not only help break down the barriers, remind the body that it does have a gear in-between stop and go. When the body forgets the stop mode, insomnia is the result. top

How does massage therapy relieve stress
and how does it promote a better mood?

Massage relieves stress by helping you to relax. Massage also causes endorphins to be released by the body, which improves mood. When the mind is happy, the body is more likely to be happy. For example, when you are stressed you get knots and pain and tension in your body. This is the reflection of your mind upon your body. When you are happy, whether from a massage or a vacation, you are less likely to find stress and tension popping up in your body. top

How does massage therapy
improve circulation?

When a muscle is tight it cannot hold the proper amount of fluid, which is necessary for proper circulation. As a result toxins accumulate in the muscle. Tight toxic muscles are straining and draining on the body and can make you feel constantly fatigued. Massage helps to relax the muscle so that the fluids can reach the muscles and flush the toxins out. Massage also pushes circulation towards the heart, helps dilate the blood vessels and relax the nervous system which all increase circulation. Massage flushes out toxins and replaces them with vital oxygen and nutrients. top

Can Massage Therapy
help me to get better sleep?

Insomnia is often due to pain and stress. Massage alleviates both these symptoms and therefore can help you sleep better. top

Can massage therapy help improve posture?
Unwanted muscle tension does cause imbalances in the body. When you have tight muscles in one shoulder, for example, it is likely that shoulder will be displaced from it natural position as a result. When this muscle is relaxed the shoulder can then return to its natural position. If a postural abnormality is chronic, additional steps may need to be taken. top

Can I get a massage if I am
a senior, disabled or a child?

Massage is good for all ages and abilities. Elderly persons tend not to get enough attention and touch and therefore have a greater potential for getting depressed. Massage for the elderly must be very gently done and this is something that Relax and Renew offers. Children also need massage. Massage for children is important because they are always testing their physical limits and are more prone to injury. In addition, due to the computer and video game age we live in, children are developing neck and shoulder tension more frequently from their sedentary lifestyle. top


What causes pain and stress?

What causes pain?
Pain is caused by both tension, stress and of course injury. When most people think of injury, they think of falling off their bike and landing on their shoulder, which results in pain and injury. But there is another type of injury that is very common that too often causes pain. This is Repetitive Strain Injury. For example, you can develop repetitive strain injuries from typing on the computer, sitting at a desk, driving, swimming, and running. Any motion that is done over and over, with poor body positioning, can cause injury and pain. Stress too causes pain. Tight muscles pinch and irritate nerves and causes pain. top

What is the pain cycle?
The diagram below explains the pain cycle:

The Pain Cycle

As you can see all stress, pain and muscle dysfunction are all connected. top

How do I know if I am stressed?
Stress can come in many forms. Insomnia, nervousness, aches and pains that have no definite cause, muscle spasms, muscle tension and irritability are all symptoms of stress, if you suffer from any of the above, you may want to consider a massage to reduce some of these symptoms. top

What is the stress cycle?
The diagram below explains the stress cycle: top

The Stress Cycle

Does pain always come from injury?
All pain does not come from injuries. As you can see from the diagrams above, a lot of the time, pain is caused by stress and tension. If you have pain and don't remember specifically hurting yourself, chances are good that pain is from stress. top


What is Muscle Health?

What if I have a specific muscle injury?
If you have a specific muscle injury it is important to let your massage therapist know what this is so that the massage may be adjusted accordingly. You should also make sure that your doctor approves of massage on this injury. top

What is muscle tension?
Muscle tension is when a shortening of the muscle occurs. This can include adhesion of the muscle, decreased circulation in the muscle, restricted movement, joint compromise and increased levels of waste in the muscle. Muscle tension often causes pain and if the tension becomes chronic, other injuries can result. top

How does muscle health effect circulation?
Tight muscles decrease the levels of circulation in the muscle. As a result vital nutrients and oxygen cannot flow freely in and out of the muscles. In addition, waste products build up in the muscle causing fatigue and soreness. top

How does muscle health affect joints?
Muscle health is not only important for the muscle itself, but also for the joints around those muscles. Tight muscles restrict joint movement and restricted movement in the joints effects movement in general. When muscles are tight they can pull on the joints and not allow them to work correctly. In addition, massage works not only on muscles but on joints to improve circulation, increases lubrication in joints and allows joints to lie together properly. top

What is self-care and why is it important?
Self-care is all the stretches, exercises or relaxation techniques that you massage therapist give to you as homework. It is very important to practice these techniques at home and in your free time in order to get the most from you massage and from life. There are many different reasons your practitioner may advise you to do certain techniques at home and all will better your well being. Whether it be a breathing exercise to help you reduce stress, or an arm stretch to get more mobility into your joint and muscles, all are important to practice as recommended by your body worker. top


If you have any questions that are not answered in this FAQ, please don't hesitate to contact me.