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Massaging away the motorway blues

Weary drivers perk up after a massage at the Würenlos service station on the A1 motorway

(swissinfo.ch)

A Swiss motorway service station has come up with a novel way to combat road rage and reduce the risk of accidents.

It is employing what is claimed to be Europe's first ever motorway masseur to knead away the strains and stresses of life on the open road.

Andreas Nägeli has set up shop in a service station on the A1 at Würenlos near Baden, and he claims his back rubs make drivers less tense, more awake, and more focused.

"Many people get up in the morning with headaches or some kind of backache," he says. "Perhaps they have a long journey ahead of them or they are under pressure to get to an appointment in time.

"If I can reduce their aches and pains, they tend to be able to concentrate much better while driving in dense traffic."

Top quality

A study carried out in 2000 by the British Automobile Association and other leading European motoring organisations placed Switzerland second in Europe in terms of the quality of services offered at motorway pit stops.

Bruno Zehren, the director of the Mövenpick service station at Würenlos, told swissinfo he wanted to build on this by offering a new "wellness" option.

So when Nägeli called to suggest opening a massage salon, Zehren agreed to give it a try.

Nägeli now spends two days a week plying his trade in a small space next to the restaurants, just large enough for a massage chair. As clients relax behind Japanese paper screens, traffic thunders by below.

"We don't really advertise, but word gets around and many motorists now stop here specifically to get a massage," boasts Zehren.

Reaching out to clients

Nägeli - a masseur for 16 years - has his own practice near St Gallen, but increasingly visits customers in their own homes or workplaces.

With massage frequently regarded as a luxury rather than a necessity in the present economic climate, he has had to become more flexible in order to reach a wider clientele.

He says a motorway service station, attracting thousands of potential customers a day, seemed the ideal spot to branch out.

And Würenlos, which is one of the country's busiest service stations and is accessible from both sides of the motorway, fitted the bill perfectly.

Growth market

Nägeli sees up to ten clients per day and he's hoping the number will pick up as the word spreads.

"They may not jump at having a massage straight away, but I'm sure that after they've seen me at work, they go home and tell their families, friends and colleagues about it. This is advertising enough".

Zehren is now thinking of introducing a gym for drivers seeking to flex their muscles before hitting the road again. After a workout and a massage, motorists could at last be driving around Switzerland with smiles on their faces.

swissinfo, Julie Hunt

Key facts

The aim of massage is to help the body heal itself and to increase well-being
Practitioners locate areas of tension and use their sense of touch to determine the right amount of pressure to apply
When muscles are overworked, waste products such as lactic acid can accumulate in the muscle, causing soreness, stiffness, and even muscle spasm
Massage improves circulation, which increases blood flow, bringing fresh oxygen to body tissues.
This can assist the elimination of waste products, speed healing after injury, and enhance recovery from disease

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In brief

The Würenlos service station on the A1 motorway has become the first in Europe to offer massage to weary drivers.

Motorway masseur Andreas Nägeli says his back rubs relieve driver stress and improve concentration, thus helping to prevent road traffic accidents.

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