The word, petrissage is from the French word patrir, meaning “to knead”.

Petrissage is the act of kneading and squeezing the muscles of the body and the tissues are compressed and released in a rhythmical fashion.  Petrissage may be administered with one or two hands depending on the size of the targeted tissue or muscle group.

Petrissage comes from the French term petrir, which means “the act of kneading.” Petrissage is accomplished by the kneading of the muscles in a rhythmic sequence of lifting and squeezing. This is allows for deeper penetration and the rolling of tissues away from the bones. Movements are done continuously and slowly to loosen muscles and improve circulation.

Characteristic of Petrissage Massage

Relaxation ***

Therapeutic ***

Intensity:   Mild – Moderate

Lubrication: Yes

Undressing: Yes

Tip: Depends on facility

How to interpret the rating scale

Variations of Petrissage:

  • Basic two-handed kneading
  • One-handed Kneading
  • Alternating one-hand kneading
  • Circular two-handed petrissage
  • Alternating fingers-to-thumb petrissage
  • Skin rolling
  • Compression

Basic two-handed kneading on the upper trapezius muscle

 Basic two-handed kneading on the hamstrings muscle

Basic two-handed kneading on the calf muscles

One-handed Kneading on sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle

One-handed Kneading on cervical paraspinals  

Alternating one-hand kneading: Alternate lifing and squeezing trapezious in an even rhythm

Circular two-handed petrissage using whole hands: tissues are picked up between the hands as they pass each other

Alternating fingers-to-thumb petrissage: The soft tissues are massaged between the thumb and fingers

Alternating fingers-to-thumb petrissage on gluteal muscles

Skin rolling: Superficial tissues are picked up and gently pulled away from underlying tissues

Skin rolling performed on the back

Compression using thumbs on the upper back

Compression using thumbs on paraspinal muscles

Circular kneading using the finger tips on temporalis muscles

Knuckling performed on the upper back muscles

Circular petrissage using the base of palm on intrascapular muscles

Petrissage is a great relaxation and therapeutic massage technique.  Petrissage techniques can be performed by many professional massage therapists.