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Cranio Sacral Reflexology

by Dr Martine Faure-Alderson(more info)

listed in reflexology, originally published in issue 176 - November 2010

Healing through touch is thousands of years old and reflexology has been practised for millennia. Cranio Sacral Therapy is a non invasive treatment which has gained increasing recognition in recent years. Cranio Sacral Reflexology (CSR) combines Reflexology with Cranio Sacral Therapy.

Cranio Sacral Therapy was developed about 100 years ago, in Kirksville, Missouri, by William G.Sutherland DO, an Osteopath.[1]

The therapy was given added impetus in the UK following a series of lectures, in 1970, by another American Osteopath, Palm Beach based John E Upledger DO.[2]

Over the next three to four years the concept of what is now referred to as Cranio Sacral Reflexology (CSR) was developed by the author, Dr. Faure-Alderson, as a distinct methodology combining Reflexology with Cranio-Sacral Therapy.[3] Dr. Faure-Alderson came to link the two therapies when, during the course of treatment, she worked certain areas of the cranium and sacrum and then went on to work the ten zones of the feet. She discovered the points in the feet corresponded to the disturbances she felt in the cranium or sacrum. After 25 years of observation she documented her combination therapy.

CSR is a non-invasive treatment, with profound effect on a variety of system's dysfunction, particularly in the sphere of trauma, including physical trauma, such as whiplash, or emotional trauma where it deals with the torsion or distortion of the meningeal membranes enveloping the spinal cord.

The Cranial Diaphragm
The Cranial Diaphragm

CSR is a therapeutic method that combines the use of pressure on specific areas of the foot that relate to the 12 cranial nerves, as well as on the pulse of the cerebro spinal fluid (CSF) which surrounds the brain and spinal cord.

The distinction between Cranio Sacral Therapy and CSR is that with the latter, one is accessing the CSF from a point in the foot or the hand rather than at various points on the body or the head. On the inner side of the foot and the hand we have an area for the spine where the spinal fluid, between the base of the skull on the point of Spheno Basilar Symphisis (SBS) and the sacrum and coccyx, is felt. The brain is above the distal phalange of the big toe. On the inner side of the distal phalange of the big toe is also where the occipital hole is found and where the atlas and axis are located. The 12 pairs of cranial nerves are on phalanges of each toe and finger on the right foot and 12 cranial nerves are in the same location on the left foot.

Reflex Areas of the Cranial Nerves
Reflex Areas of the Cranial Nerves

Cranio Sacral Reflexology helps treat trauma and stress related conditions by balancing the distribution of CSF within the four ventricles of the brain. Pressure applied to the specific points on the feet stimulate and harmonize Cranial Rhythm[4] or Primary Respiratory Mechanism (PRM). The movement of CSF can be felt in the feet, as a pulse or a wave, and is quite different from the pulse of the heart. A rhythm of six to twelve cycles per minute is the normal PRM for humans of all ages. It can increase to twenty five during a fever or go as low as two in the case of a coma or anoxia. During illness or trauma there will also be a variation in the rate of flow.[5] While this rhythm has traditionally been felt on the head it can be felt as easily on the fingers or toes.

Cranio-Sacral Reflexology Sutures and Circulation in the Cranial System
Cranio-Sacral Reflexology Sutures and Circulation in the Cranial System

Case Study - Dr. Faure-Alderson

Marie, a little girl of 31/2, was brought to my practice 2 days after a bad fall on the pavement in front of her house. Her knees, hands and chin were badly bruised. She was experiencing pain mainly at the back of her head and also in her chin, in both temporal bones and behind her eyes. Her headaches were bad and she refused to leave her mother's knee or to be touched by any one. The only access she allowed was through her feet. I started by massaging her right foot - in the inner side of her foot, in the spinal area, from atlas to coccyx.

Then I proceeded to massage all articulations of her toes (plantar and dorsal) which correspond to all the sutures of the cranial bones of the head, and the distal phalange of both big toes (because the occipital bone is found there), as well as the teeth, mouth and chin. It was very tender and I could only stay on that part for a minute or two, so I alternated between the solar plexus, spinal column, sacrum, and coccyx to release the pain in her head. At first, the primary mechanism and CSF rhythm were very high (above 18 pulsations a minute) and its movement was very agitated. Gradually, as I massaged the spinal area and the sutures on her toes, the pulse began to slow down (based on measurements taken on the skin of her feet) and the pain and headache eventually went away. It required three treatments, each 40 minutes in length, at weekly intervals, to stabilize the child and after the third treatment the PMR and CSF of the child were back to 11 pulsations a minute. For all treatments I did not have any access to the head, neck, or spine. All results were achieved entirely through Cranio Sacral Reflexology.

Babies who have a difficult birth are very affected by the compression of the cranial bones, namely the fronto-sphenoidal, the occipito-mastoid and the spheno basilar symphisis. Symptoms include crying, restlessness, vomiting, and colic. If untreated, these children can present at a later age with headaches, digestive problems, lack of concentration, emotional and abdominal pain. In the 1960s and 70s Dr. Viola Frymann,[6,7] an American Paediatrician, examined thousands of children of different ages and found that the symptoms created during birth can extend into teenage and beyond into adulthood. These people fail to reach their full potential, which is a tragedy, given how simple the initial treatment is, if given at the outset.

A recent study in Japan[8] showed that the stimulation of reflexological areas on the foot that correspond to the eye, shoulder and small intestine, induced a somatosensory response which could be observed using Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging. This study would appear to confirm what Reflexologists believe - that the effects of the stimulation of the reflexes in the foot are demonstrable scientifically. Continued research will only add to the credibility of combination therapies such as CSR.

In conclusion, CSR is a step forward in the application of reflexology. It harnesses the extraordinary potential of the creative brain to bring homeostasis and health through reflexology.   


 1. Sutherland WG. With Thinking Fingers. The Cranial Academy. 1962
 2. Upledger JE. Craniosacral Therapy. Eastland Press 1983.
 3. Faure - Alderson. Tip to Toe. Clinic of Natural therapies. 1980.
 4. Faure - Alderson M. Total reflexology.Healing art Press. 2008.
 5. Upledger J E. Craniosacral Therapy. Eastland Press 1983.
 6. Frymann, Dr Viola Frymann. Relations of Disturbances of Cranio Sacral Mechanisms to Symptomatology of the new born - study of 1 250 infants. JA.O.A. 65-1059-75. 1966.
 7. Frymann, Dr Viola. A Study of the Rhythmic Motions of the Living Cranium. JA.O.A. 70-928-45. 1971.
 8. T Nakamaru, N Miura, A Fukushima and R.Kawashima. Somatotopical relationships between cortical activity, reflex areas in reflexology: And functional magnetic resonance imaging study, Neuroscience Letters. 2008.

Picture Credits

All pictures courtesy M. Faure-Alderson


  1. Ken Cook said..

    If the cranial nerve reflexes are in the same place in the hand as they are in the feet would you get better results working the hands since there is more space there.

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About Dr Martine Faure-Alderson

Dr Martine Faure-Alderson DO MRO ND MNIMH MbacC RSHom  has been a holistic therapist for 40 years, and includes Cranial Osteopathy, Reflexology and Cranio Sacral Reflexology, Homeopathy, Osteopathy, and Medical Herbalism in her method of practice. In this way she achieves a maximum holistic approach, according to the particular needs of each individual patient. Martine is also the author of the book Total Reflexology, published by Inner Traditions International in 2008. Martine set up the RTTFA School of reflexology in Paris in 1974 and she lectures widely internationally on Cranio Sacral Reflexology (CSR). Dr Faure-Alderson may be contacted via

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