In my native language, there's a word that describes the process of

pressing (gently or hard) and releasing, again pressing and releasing, and so on...

on any body area.

Now, this is the most useful therapy to alleviate 'pain'. The best example I can come up with is 'headache'. Normal headaches 'can be cured' using this technique.

Not just headache, this is effective on any paining organ -say legs, calves, back, shoulder or wherever.

This is not massage.

The difference is, in massage, you 'rub' and also 'move' your palms together. Here, you don't! Take head. One will press your forehead with palms and the release, again press, then release...and so on. Rubbing will never happen in this process.

Well, if there's no word, a phrase would work.

  • 1
    To me, the claim "This is not massage" is interesting. I can't make up my mind if I agree or disagree with the claim. In any case, this question reminds me of "reflexology", which makes this question intriguing. Commented Apr 4, 2015 at 11:12
  • 1
    @DamkerngT. You have to disagree with it. Because I know the origin of massage. It might be new to modern doctors, but mentioned in Ayurveda (5000 BC!). In Ayurveda, the word is 'champi' for kneading and 'abhyanga' for massage.
    – Maulik V
    Commented Apr 4, 2015 at 12:32

2 Answers 2


I think you can use the verb "knead". The Longman Dictionary says that the verb also means to press someone's muscles many times to help cure pain or to help someone relax. For example, he kneaded my back. She is kneading her grandma's legs.

  • The ODO confirms this usage, but I wonder how long it's been in use.
    – user6951
    Commented Apr 4, 2015 at 7:39
  • 1
    You need not knead knots out... (English can sound funny sometimes)
    – J.R.
    Commented Apr 4, 2015 at 10:32
  • Specially for non-native speakers when they find a word used in different senses.
    – Khan
    Commented Apr 4, 2015 at 10:57

"Knead" works if you're pressing on a muscle. It does not if you are pressing on bone, like someone's skull to relieve a headache (you would never ever say "she kneaded my head, then I felt better").

For the case of headache relief I can only think of "repeatedly compressed" or "repeatedly squeezed", although this is fairly dry English.

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