Lawrence massage therapists do more than help people relieve stress.
Massage is gaining popularity and respect in Lawrence, according to local certified massage therapists.
"If you've ever had a cramp in you leg and you've rubbed it, then you're halfway there," said Tim Lawrence, owner of Bodyworks Massage Therapy, 1012 Mass.
"Basically, what a massage therapist does is to manipulate the muscles and what that manipulation does is to push blood into those areas that need nutrients."
Lawrence studied massage therapy for six months with Necia Gamby of Kansas City, Kan., and earned his certification to practice massage therapy by completing a number of required hours of instruction.
"I went for a total of six months and I put in, at that time, the required hours," Lawrence said. "I've put in over 580 hours in both study and practice."
A variety of massage techniques can be integrated into a massage session, Lawrence said. People should determine what form of massage is best for them.
"In Swedish massage there are two basic techniques called effleurage and petrissage," Lawrence said. "Effleurage is the manipulation of the muscle tissue with alternating movements and petrissage is more of a kneading action."
Lawrence said deep-tissue massage can be performed on people who have had a massage before.
"The Swedish is more of a relaxation massage," Lawrence said. "With deep-tissue massage, I can really pinpoint the areas that need work."
Along with the deep-tissue form of massage, rehabilitation massage such as stretches, range of motion therapy and pin-pointing certain body sections helps those patients suffering from various injuries.
While massage can help some people suffering from certain injuries, Lawrence makes it clear that massage won't help every injury.
"There are no promises," Lawrence said. "I just say this is what I think I can do for you."
Another technique of massage which Lawrence said can help people is a technique known as "rolfing."
Elaine Brewer is a certified rolfer who recently moved her Massachusetts Street location to a new office at 11th and Kentucky streets.
"It's someone who does alignment of the body parts," Brewer said. "I see a lot of people who have injuries from working long periods of time at computers or people who have been in car accidents."
Although many insurance companies won't cover massage therapy as a form of medical treatment, Lawrence said he hopes the practice will receive better recognition in the medical community.
"To make massage actually legitimate and to get people away from the idea that it is some kind of sick sexual act, they (universities) should offer an undergraduate degree," Lawrence said. "Take all of the required undergraduate requirements, back it with the medical community, back it with the insurance community and give it a different name."
Adding to the growing approval of massage therapy is the decision to allow massage therapists inside the 1996 Olympic Village in Atlanta to assist athletes.