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Petrissage Massage Strokes and Techniques
Petrissage Massage Strokes and Techniques
What is Petrissage?

The word "petrissage" originates from the French verb "petrir" which means "to knead".

The term petrissage refers to a category of massage movements, including kneading, wringing, lifting and rolling.

During petrissage movements soft tissues are compressed against each other or against the underlying bone/s. As this involves compression of the skin and underlying tissues, it must only be applied to relaxed muscle tissues.

Petrissage, in other words

Petrissage is an extremely powerful and vigorous technique, which enables the therapist to work deeply on the muscles. It can be applied it to every area of the body, except for the face, and it is effective on the fleshy areas such as the hips and thighs. In picking-up, place your hands flat on the part being treated and grasp the muscle (not the skin) firmly with one or both hands, then pull it as far away as possible from the bone.

Once you have picked up the muscle you may squeeze it gently. Squeezing is particularly effective in alleviating muscle spasm. You may now roll the muscle in both directions - your thumbs may roll the muscle towards your fingers or your fingers may roll the muscle towards your thumbs. Wringing is a variation on picking-up. The muscle is picked up and then pulled towards you and 'wrung' out.

Petrissage must be applied slowly and rhythmically and can be performed using either one or both hands. For example, one-handed petrissage is common when working on the arms if using the other hand/arm to support the client's arm while holding it slightly away from the body. However, two-handed petrissage is commonly applied when working on the leg muscles. In this case, two ands can be used to work against each other - producing a squeezing action.

Benefits of Petrissage

The benefits of petrissage movements can include stimulating the skin (including vascular and lymphatic responses, cellular functions, and regeneration and texture of the skin), improving muscle tone, improving the elimination of waste products from tissues, and the breakdown of adipose tissue.

Note that therapists generally select techniques appropriate to achieve the purpose of any particular treatment - as discussed during a pre-treatment consultation. Most massage treatments include a range of techniques - including some petrissage movements.

Petrissage movements should not be applied to any inflamed areas (incl. abdominal inflammations such as appendicitis), in cases of hernia, pregnancy, or intensively over recent muscle strains or scars.

If in doubt about the safety of a movement don't perform it - seek advice from a tutor or medical professional.

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