ALTERNATIVE HEALTH special
Big boys do cry
Forget Rab C. Nesbitt.The traditional Scottish male could be turning to therapeutic massage rather than the bottle. Words: Gabe Stewart
’YOU WORK AWAY, and you work away, and you work away, and you’re not aware of the build up, and then something goes "ting!".' Once, stress might have driven a man to drink or violence. Nowadays when the going gets tough, the tough increasingly get some therapeutic massage.
A comparatively recent phenomenon, therapeutic massage fuses body work and counselling to address physical, mental and emotional problems. The heady mix of touching and talking can be a powerful tonic.
’I know men who have broken down and cried and may not initially know the reason why,’ says Scottish architect Rob, who has been getting therapeutic massage regularly for a couple of years. He goes to sessions once a month or more, mainly to help deal with stress, although they have also helped with more obvious ailments like pulled muscles. Rob also values the space, 'where you can just stop and have time which is pure self- indulgence for yourself'.
He feels therapeutic massage provides a safe envrronment in which
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men can release emotions they are uncomfortable showing elsewhere. 'I think it's very hard for a man to express his emotions in the workplace, because he’s expected to have a stiff upper lip,' he says.
Ian Neylon’s first career was in teaching and guidance counselling. He had always been interested in using his hands, so left teaching to study osteopathy, which he found ‘too clinical'. He switched to therapeutic
‘f know men who have broken down and cried and may not initially know the reason why.’
massage, and, now 50, is a qualified ‘
massage and bone manipulation therapist at Glasgow’s Centre for Natural Therapeutics.
Neylon sees a clear difference in the way men and women deal with their stress. Men usually want to address problems on a physical level, he says: ‘I’ve got this problem here, can you sort it out now?’ They can be more
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reluctant than women to look at other factors in their lives that may be affecting their well-being.
Women want to talk about their problems, says Neylon. Unlike men, they aren’t necessarily orientated towards an immediate solution: ’What helps them is the fact that they’re being listened to, and attended to on a physical level.’
Although many of Neylon's clients’ ailments are caused by stress on their systems, whether emotional or postural, he has also worked with people Suffering from Parkinson's disease, a progressive condition affecting the nervous system. One of the disease's symptoms, tremors, can be controlled through conscious effort, which can lead to patients locking their muscles, says Neylon. He adds that although therapeutic massage can't arrest the disease process, it helps patients improve mobility and muscle tone and on an emotional level, helps them respect their body
'There's a big emotional coming-to- terms-with-matters,’ says Neylon. 'There’s no cure and they're gradually losing control of their bodies, so working at that physical and emotional level is very important for them.
lane Rieck launched Glasgow's Centre for Natural Therapeutics in a small way fifteen years ago. She based
Foo yung to die: but even Rab C. Nesbitt could become one of the Scottish men adopting a more healthy lifestyle
it in a Victorian house in Dennistoun in the city’s East End, used by her parents as a GPs’ surgery in the fifties. After qualifying as a GP and then training in and practisrng holistic medicine since 1973, she returned to the city’s east end in 1983.
You might imagine Glasgow's more wealthy west end might have been a more obvious base for the centre, but 30% of Rieck’s city-wide client base are local. She says the area wasn’t the easiest place to start up, but it has certainly been the most rewarding.
’Although you could say it’s a more deprived area, I had grown up here and found a certain courage and honesty in the people, which brought me back there,’ she says.
Clients' names have been changed.
For information on therapeutic massage in your area. contact the Centre for Natural Therapeutics. based at the College of Holistic Medicine, 4 Craigpark. Dennistoun, 631 ZNA, 0141 554 4017.
A one-hour session costs £25—£30. The first session lasts one and a half hours.
The college also runs a one year teaching course, which takes place over ten weekends.