Kneading is one of the most important techniques that a therapist can use due to its ability to produce effects in the body. It is performed on the body in a manner similar to the way a baker kneads bread. This technique can either be done superficially or deep. There are several ways that kneading can be done. Regardless of the kneading technique used, it is important to use friction afterward to push the wastes generated by kneading out of the body.
2 Types of Kneading
Superficial or Fulling- This massage technique only affects the superficial layer of the skin, no major muscles are involved. By using the thumb and first couple of fingers, the therapist is able create stimulation on the surface of the skin. The motion is similar to a light pinching by the fingers.
Deep Kneading- This technique has the most influence on the muscles. This is where the knowledge of the body and the skills learned in school get combined to act upon the body. The muscles get grasped, vibrated or wrung out by the therapist. Therefore it is important for the therapist to know their patient and to know how much pressure to use when performing this type of kneading.
7 types of Kneading
Petrissage- The most common kneading technique used by therapist. The muscles are grasped, compressed and lifted from the muscle or bony area and then released. This technique uses one or both hands in a relatively quick manner. The number of movements by the hand on the body should be around 30-90 compression per minute.
Palmar- The therapist uses the palm of their hand to press the muscle against the underlying bones of the body. This technique is useful on larger areas of the body like the back or chest. The rate for this procedure is the same as petrissage, 30-90 movements per minute.
Digital- The therapist uses the pads of their fingers to massage the body. This procedure is better suited to massage the more intricate and delicate areas of the body. The areas likely to get digital kneading are face, head, shoulders, abdomen, the area next to the spine, joints and bony areas. The rate for digital kneading is the same for petrissage- 30-90 movements per minute.
Rolling- This technique is uses quick hand movements and is effective for massaging longer areas such as legs or arms. The hands are held straight with the fingers together. The hands are placed on opposite sides of the area to be rolled. The ankle if it’s the leg and the wrist if it’s the arm. The muscles get compressed by the hands and are moved in an alternating up and down motion. Care should be used so that the hands stay steady and not slip. The rate for rolling is very fast 200-400 movements per minute, and should use a good degree of pressure.
Wringing- As the name implies, this technique wrings the muscles to allow for increased circulation. The muscles are grasped with both hands on opposite sides of each other, and then are twisted and compressed against each other. The thumbs of the muscle that is being grasped should be pointed toward each other. This movement is similar to wring out a towel. After the wringing movement is completed, then the tissues are released. The hands then move up the body another hand length and the movement is repeated, compressing and wringing the next area. This movement is done with considerable pressure (within the clients limits) and executed much slower that most techniques. It should take 4-6 seconds to perform each act of wringing.
Chucking- This massage involves using jerk-like motions to help reduce muscle rigidity. One or both hands may be used for this technique. The tissue is grasped and moved in a to-and-from movement along the length of the bony structure. Because the tissues are being firmly grasped, there is no sliding of the hands. The rate of chucking is 10-20 quick movements of the hand. This is usually enough to reduce rigidity. Along longer muscles it may be necessary to move the hands toward the center of the body.
Fist**– This technique is only used on the abdomen. This is a slower massage technique using a closed fist to massage the areas of the colon. The numbers of movements that need to be made will vary based on the size of the client’s abdomen. The pattern of this technique will make an upside down U-shaped pattern (because it follows the path of the ascending colon all the way to the descending colon) Make sure that the client is in the proper position with the knees slightly bent before beginning this technique. The face of the closed right fist is pressed against the cecum or beginning of the ascending colon (the clients lower right abdomen). The wrist is slowly rolled in an upward flicking motion so that the wrist is resting where the closed fist was, making sure to keep connected with the skin the entire time. Make a fist with the left hand and place the closed fist in front of the other fist. In a similar manner make an upward flicking motion with the left fist so the wrist is in contact with the skin. This movement will continue until the therapist gets to the area just above iliac crest of the pelvis which should occur after about 2 wrist movements. Keeping the fists still connected to the colon, the therapist slowly turns their fist 90 degrees to the right so that that they are fist kneading the transverse colon. From there the fist kneading continues along the transverse colon. It should take about 4-6 more fist kneading movements to get to the areas above the iliac crest of the clients left side. From there the movements of the fist take another 90 degree turn to right so that the therapist can massage the descending colon. Like the ascending colon, it should take another 2 fist movements to finish this technique.
** This information is mentioned to preserve the integrity of the technique. There are several precautions, contraindications and restrictions when performing abdominal massage, and therefore the techniques described here should only be used by a trained therapist qualified in this procedure.