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What is Petrissage Massage and What Are Its Benefits?

Petrissage refers to a series of slow and rhythmical movements that use deep pressure to compress muscles and tissues against each other. The techniques used in petrissage massage are executed using the palms, thumbs, or surface of the finger. Squeezing the muscles against the bones or each other helps to stretch and loosen the muscle fibers. The basic movement used in petrissage is to compress the soft tissue by picking up and squeezing the skin or apply direct pressure before releasing it. This article discusses everything you need to know about petrissage massage including the techniques used, benefits, and considerations.

How Does it Work?

The therapist performing a petrissage uses hands-on manipulation techniques to separate the tissues from structures.

petrissage massage to lay on with spikes
This helps to stretch and loosen the muscle fibers, which in turn activates the lymphatic and vascular responses in the skin. These responses not only enhance blood circulation but also facilitate the draining of toxins from the body. The techniques used in petrissage can also help to break down adhesions or thickened muscular tissues that occur after an injury or surgery. A therapist starts with a general warming up of the superficial tissues through a process known as effleurage before proceeding with petrissage to stretch and loosen the muscles.

Techniques Used in Petrissage

When performing petrissage, both hands are used preferentially as a unit. There is always some rhythm and cooperation, whether the hands are moving towards or away from one another, or one hand is placed over the other hand to apply deep pressure. Petrissage is an umbrella term that uses techniques such as kneading, rolling, lifting, milking, and wringing. Kneading involves picking up and squeezing the skin and is usually performed in a circular motion.

Unlike kneading, lifting can easily be applied with one hand rather than the whole thumb by lifting, squeezing, and then releasing the tissue. Wringing is when the tissue is pressed against the underlying structure and gently lifted away. Milking is often used for larger muscles like the back, legs, and shoulder. The squeezing is done using both hands and pressure is applied rhythmically.

Benefits of Petrissage

  • Improves Blood Circulation

Petrissage enhances blood circulation by increasing lymphatic and venous return. It accelerates the delivery of oxygenated blood and nutrients to major parts of the body such as the heart, arteries, and muscles. Improved blood circulation also helps to eliminate waste products from the body.

  • Increases Range of Motion

Muscle fibers slide past each other more easily when they have been stretched and loosened. This helps to achieve a greater muscle length by naturally improving flexibility and range of motion. Enhancing muscle function also reduces the risk of injuries and helps to eliminate scar tissue and adhesions.

  • Improves Muscle Tone

Regular petrissage massage can help to maintain the right amount of muscle tension. The muscles exhibit a form of resistance known as muscle tone when it is at rest. The techniques used during petrissage stimulates reflexes found in muscle fibers, which can be useful for people who live a physically inactive lifestyle.

  • Stimulates the Skin

The kneading movements used in petrissage can stimulate the skin. It improves blood circulation and minimizes surface tension, which leads to cell regeneration in the skin. Petrissage also increases the production of natural oil that can help to re-hydrate the skin.

  • Mobilize Subcutaneous Fat

The adipose tissue located under the skin stores excess fat in the body. Improved blood circulation and cell regeneration in the skin can help get rid of excess fats from your body. It can enhance weight loss when combined with regular physical activities and proper eating habits.


Petrissage is usually safe and very effective in most cases as it delivers promising results after the session. However, it may be inappropriate over new scar tissue, over inflamed areas, damaged skin, swelling, or after a recent injury. Since petrissage can be painful, your practitioner needs to adjust the firmness according to your pain threshold. Allow sufficient time for recovery after surgery before scheduling for a petrissage as the deep pressure could cause more damage to the area.

The overall goal of petrissage is to target the deeper tissues and penetrate the superficial layers to increase blood circulation to the muscles. Petrissage should not be painful when performed by well-trained and experienced therapists, as they know when and how to adjust the pressure depending on their client’s situation. It helps to stretch and broaden muscle fibers that may have been tightened because of overexertion or lack of stretching.