Massage Techniques – Effleurage and Patrissage

I love the start of a massage, when the masseur is warming up the tissue and spreading the oil around. The hands go up and down and round on either side of your spine and I wanted to find out more about this very calming aspect of the massage.

I learned that these two massage techniques are called Effleurage and Patrissage.


These relaxing massage techniques are derived from the French verb ‘effleurer’ meaning “to touch lightly” and the first use of the word effleurage as a massage stroke category is attributed to Dr Johan Georg Mezger who lived in Amsterdam in the middle to late 1800s.

These massage techniques are a soothing, stroking movement used at the beginning and the end of a body massage, as well as being used as a linking move between the different strokes and movements.

Essentially, it is a form of massage involving a circular stroking movement performed using either the padded parts of the finger tips or the palm of the hands and can be firm or light without dragging the skin, which works as a mechanical pump on the body to encourage venous and lymphatic return.

I found a really interesting post on the more technical nature of the technique here.

There are various types massage techniques involved in effleurage:

alternate figure of eight – where the hands are at 180 degrees out of phase, one is going up as the other is coming back and which can be performed on any part of the body: back, lower back, calf, buttock, shoulder, neck;

alternate – where the hands are on either side of the spine up and down going towards each other;

and bilateral are the ones that I am aware of when I am on the table.


This is the sports massage technique that I am not so keen on – especially when it is applied to my calf muscles. Derived from the French verb ‘pétrir’, meaning “to knead”, these kneading, wringing, skin rolling and pick-up-and-squeeze massage movements are applied with pressure and compress the underlying muscles. Kneading, wringing, skin rolling and pick-up-and-squeeze are the slow, rhythmical petrissage movements. They are all performed with the padded part of the palm of the hand, the surface of the finger and also the thumbs.

At first there is longitudinal pressure and then small strokes are applied covering a few inches of flesh at a time working through the whole muscle. There is a pressure point in the middle of the calf muscle on the back of your leg which corresponds to some deep discomfort when attacked during a martial arts lesson. The same sensations can be achieved when your masseur knuckles or kneads that point.

Scissoring can be performed only over a flat area with very little pressure using the index and middle fingers of both hands placed opposite each other and then slowly worked towards each other lifting and releasing as they go.

Get your massage in Leigh on Sea at the Ark

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