Beginner’s Guide To Swedish Massage: Petrissage

As noted in Beginner’s Guide To Swedish Massage: Effleurage, Swedish massage is a type of massage from the 18th Century that consists of effleurage, petrissage, friction, and percussion. Effleurage was previously described in the blog above as a technique that is defined by long, stroking movements that are light pressure. On the other hand, “petrissage” is a French word that means “to knead” and this is a massage therapy technique that involves- literally- kneading the body. These massage movements are usually deep and compress the underlying muscles.

Petrissage Massage Techniques

Petrissage massage is – quite frankly- similar to that of kneading dough in baking. This is the most commonly used form of petrissage massage. It is also an umbrella term for a few different techniques such as “skin rolling,” which also falls under this category. Skin rolling is where the therapist uses their fingers to gently pull the skin away from the muscle beneath and rolls it in different directions. This can be helpful when there are myofascial restrictions. A couple other examples of petrissage are pulling and squeezing the soft tissue to knead it.

Petrissage can be performed on most parts of the body and it can be anywhere from deep to light in pressure. Oftentimes effleurage is performed prior to petrissage in order to warm up the tissue and calm down the nervous system; however, petrissage can also be used as a warm up technique prior to deeper massage techniques.  Petrissage massage should not be painful, and is thought to help with circulation as well as the other overall health benefits of massage. It is also thought to be helpful to milk the muscles of waste products and free up adhesions. Petrissage massage can be stimulating and invigorating to the client as well, especially when performed at a fast speed.

For the massage therapist performing this Swedish massage technique, there is heavy use of the fingers, hands and palms of the body. The therapist can also use their bodyweight to lean into the technique and allow gravity to assist as much as possible. This technique is often a favorite of clients, and can yield very promising results.

Interested in learning more about Swedish Massage? Read our blog about Effleurage HERE