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You’re feeling stressed, achy and tense, so you’ve booked yourself a massage. But if you intend to spend your appointment simply zoning out or snoozing, you’re doing it wrong.

To get the most of your session with a registered massage therapist, make sure to ask plenty of questions and communicate with your therapist so you can both get to the root of your discomfort, says Andrew Lewarne, executive director of the Registered Massage Therapists’ Association of Ontario.

“This idea of going in and immediately passing out on the table, that’s not really what you want to do,” he says.

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Lewarne says when clients tell him they just want to relax, he makes sure to ask them why they’re having trouble doing so. Knowing what’s causing their inability to relax can then help him understand how those issues affect them physically. For instance, perhaps they sit at a desk all day with their shoulders rounded and their head tilted forward, and they suffer from low-level headaches. Armed with this information, Lewarne can then determine which muscles need to be stimulated, which muscles need to be stretched out, how certain structures relate to each other and how to fix the problem.

At the start of a session, your therapist should understand what exactly you need, and you should understand exactly what can be done, he says. He explains that people often have unrealistic expectations of the results of a single session, so it’s important to prioritize the issues you want addressed.

Throughout the session, make sure to keep up the communication, Lewarne advises. Let the therapist know how you’re doing, and whether the massage is helping or hindering the issue.

And at the end of the session, you should feel more connected with your body, he says. Discuss with your therapist remedial exercises that you can do to enhance the areas you’re working on. Your therapist should provide you with a strategy to meet your individual needs.

Sure, you may feel blissed-out afterward. And that’s fine, Lewarne says, but it shouldn’t be all you expect to get out of a massage.

“It’s a nice state to be in for a little while, but what you actually want to maintain is that feeling when you get up and you feel like you can move,” he says.

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