The term petrissage actually refers to a category (or "class") of massage movements, that includes:
The word "petrissage" is derived from the French verb "petrir" which means "to knead".
During petrissage movements soft tissues are compressed against each other or against the underlying bone or bones. As this involves compression of the skin and underlying tissues, it must only be applied to relaxed muscle tissues.
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 hands can be used to work against each other, producing a squeezing action.
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.
Therapists generally select techniques appropriate to achieve the purpose of any particular treatment, as discussed during the consultation preceeding the treatment. Most massage treatments include a range of techniques, including some petrissage movements.
Petrissage movements should not be applied in certain circumstances such as:
- to any inflamed areas (incl. abdominal inflammations such as appendicitis)
- in cases of hernia
- during pregnancy, or
- intensively over recent muscle strains or scars.
Note: If in doubt about the safety of a massage movement don't perform it - seek advice from a tutor or other appropriately qualified person.
This section consists of short summaries about the classical massage movements. This list of massage techniques is not exhaustive. For more general information about massage see also:
This page is in the section about massage manipulation techniques.
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