Definition:  also called kneading. intermittent grasping and releasing movement that attempts to lift soft tissue away from the underlying and adjacent structures.  It is most effective when it is done on a relaxed muscle.  It usually follows effleurage.

Applications:  Skin and muscle tissues are raised from their ordinary position and then squeezed and rolled or pinched with a firm, usually circular pressure.  Lifting stretching, rolling, compressing, kneading or squeezing.  It can be applied using the full hands, thumbs and fingers, fingertips.  The most important thing is that there is a definite picking up or lifting of the tissue

Petrissage Variations:

Lifting Strokes: Thumbs and fingers, bent only at the first joint, close over the skin or flat muscle tissue on a body part so the surface tissue is raised and lifted away from underlying structures.  Pull straight up, rather than towards you or away from you.  Alternate hands.

Open C/Closed C must be done with full hand contact and is best applied on large muscle masses such as the trapezius, gluteals, hamstrings and the gastrocnemius.  It can also be done on large, flat muscles such as the lattissimus dorsi as long as there is enough tissue to lift.

Alternating thumb petrissage – alternating hands similar to open c/closed c, but without the full hand contact.  There is compressing and lifting using the thumbs and fingertips.  It can be done on think, fleshy bellies where full hand contact might be too difficult or between muscles like between the biceps brachii and triceps brachii.

Muscle squeezing or muscle lifting can both be done with one or two hands and involve squeezing and lifting the muscles from underlying structures.  muscle squeezing is lifting the muscle and allowing it to return slowly to its normal position.  Muscle lifting is lifting and dropping the muscle.  Both can be done on long, thin muscles such as the forearm or the calf or on larger groups like the hamstrings

Skin Rolling – can be painful.  done by rolling the skin between the fingertips and thumbs and generally applied to the back.

Kneading Strokes:   Muscle tissue is stretched and kneaded in a rhythmic motion across a body part and pulled in a circular motion with pressure usually moving toward the heart ( tradition or scientific basis unknown).  Slow kneading has a greater effect on circulation and is more sedative.  Fast kneading is more stimulating to the muscle tissue and nerves and has less effect on circulation.

One Hand or simultaneous hand kneading – which is done similarly to open c/closed c, is a kneading movement that is done either with one hand at a time, usually because the body part being worked on is small or confined such as the arm or superior aspect of the trapezius, or with both hands simultaneously on larger muscles such as those of the leg/thigh.

Squeezing strokes:   Wringing

Effects :

Mechanical Effects:

  • stretches veins and lymphatic vessels
  • help moves interstitial fluids
  • helps free or prevent adhesions
  • stretches and broadens the muscles
  • relaxes muscles
  • increases muscle temperature
  • prevents stiffness

Reflexive effects:

  • done slowly and lightly can create a reflexive relaxation effect
  • increases the glandular activity of the skin
  • affects proprioception which is the body’s mechanism for knowing it’s place in space.
  • done on the abdomen it can increase peristalsis and increase blood pressure


  • to warm tissue
  • relieve edema
  • break up adhesions
  • relieve muscle shortening due to bad posture habits


  • on anything effleruage is contra-indicated
  • on atrophied muscles that do not have full circulation or enervation
  • on flaccid paralysis

For More Information see recommended text books