Petrissage and Kneading

late 19th century: French pétrissage, from pétrir ‘to knead’
  • This massage stroke commonly moves on from effleurage and is used to manipulate the skin and muscle tissue.
  • The tissue can be picked up between the fingers and thumbs in the classic petrissage style and a wringing action can be performed.

Other parts of the body can be used to apply a kneading action to the tissue:

  • Placing one hand on top of the other you can use more of your body weight into the tissue to compress and release. Using finger pads also allows more superficial work on the surface of the skin.
  • Forearms, elbows and fists can also be used


  • The amount of pressure can vary from light to firm.
  • Try and cover a large area although fleshier areas allow the technique to be applied much more easily.
  • Sequences can be slow-paced, medium-paced or fast-paced. The movements can be quite dynamic and bold or very small and more liberal.

Benefits of petrissage/kneading

  • Helps to manipulate and break down adhesion in the skin/muscles.
  • Increases blood and lymph flow to the skin/muscles which helps warm and replenish the tissue if it has been tight.
  • Helps in the removal of waste from local skin/muscle cells by increasing blood supply and lymph flow.
  • Helps improve delivery of nutrients/oxygen to the skin/muscle cells by increasing blood and lymph supply.
  • Can work over areas of tighter tissue with more liberal slow techniques and then build up pressure to suit.
  • Can be very relaxing/ invigorating to receive.