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Learning Center | Massage Techniques- Kneading

massage techniques kneading

What is a Kneading Massage?

Kneading is a massage technique where pressure is applied to both the top and innermost layers of muscle. Kneading is a common technique that can treat tight muscles, improve flexibility, and lessen pain. It can also be used to reduce stress and anxiety.

Kneading specifically involves compressing soft tissues in a circular motion that lifts, rolls, and squeezes the muscles. Massage is applied across the muscle to break down adhesions and realign collagen fibers. Breaking down adhesions, or knots, can release restrictive tissue, minimize pain, and improve your range of movement.

When is Kneading Used?

Kneading is used to:

  • Treat high muscle tone
  • Manipulate tight muscles
  • Provide relaxation

Kneading can be used to address high muscle tone, a condition when the muscle is overly tense even when relaxed. Intense emotions like stress or anxiety can send signals to the muscles that make them remain tight, causing muscle tension and muscle tone to increase. As a kneading massage progresses it warms and relaxes the muscles to fight this condition.

This increase in temperature, caused by friction as the muscle fibers move against each other, and the stimulation relax muscles and increase circulation, breaking down adhesions and decreasing tone.

The act of massage has also been known to release endorphins and produce calming and relaxing effects.

What are the Physiological Effects of Kneading?

Massage can provide several important physiological effects, including:

  • Increased capillarization
  • Increased vasodilation
  • Elevated tissue elasticity

Kneading stimulates capillarization in the blood, which is the increase in the number of capillaries. When this number goes up, blood flow to an area is improved. The increase of capillaries also means an increase in oxygen and nutrients that keep muscles healthy. 

Kneading also produces vasodilation or the dilating of blood cells. This increases the temperature in the soft tissues, which in turn helps increase cellular exchange, allowing more oxygen and nutrients into muscle cells.

Muscle flexibility is also increased as muscle tissue elasticity goes up. Kneading does this by stretching along the direction of muscle fibers. When muscles are stretched like this, muscle spindles record a change in the length and send on this signal to the nervous system. As this happens, the spindles adapt to the stretch and become more flexible.

What are the Benefits of Kneading?

Kneading has numerous benefits, including:

  • Reduced tension
  • Improved flexibility
  • Lowered muscle pain
  • Decreased stress

By applying alternate pressures to stretch and mobilize muscle fibers, kneading helps to continue improving that flexibility and cuts down on muscle tension. This increase in overall muscle and connective tissue flexibility can help to prevent injuries and improve athletic performance.

Massage also helps relieve pain within muscles because the manipulation interferes with pain signals and releases natural painkillers- endorphins.

Kneading is also a relaxation technique that can decrease stress by lowering the heart rate, helping relaxation, and stimulating those painkilling, feel-good hormones.

Kneading in Massage Chairs

When you’re looking at massage chairs on our site, those that offer auto programs will likely give you the option to select the kneading technique and may also use it in several programs such as full-body, neck and shoulders, low back, or morning. Frequently, kneading is among the crucial techniques available in a massage chair. It’s frequently found as a stand-alone option and paired with tapping.

If you have any questions about this technique or the massage chairs that provide it, you can reach us over the phone or through email at We’d be glad to help you with your search for the right massage chair. You might also want to check out the Massage Chair Buying Guide. It can help you to get started on your hunt for the best chair for your needs.

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