How foot longitudinal arches can cause thigh, back, and neck tension
By Roger R. Fontaine, r.m.t. Sept-08
As an experienced massage therapist the first thing I think of when a client presents with neck pain is to look at the whole body.
How can longitudinal arches in the feet cause neck tension and pain?
My first meeting with the client was during an emergency home visit wherein the client complained of being unable to move her neck. She did present as sidebended in the lumbar spine.
The usual visual assessment may or may not reveal a spinal sidebendedness or a tight ilio-psoas, or a tight ITB(iliotibialband) or quadriceps. However, upon further inspection, the next day, in my clinic, what I noticed was tenderness and tension in one or both of the longitudinal arches of the feet. Something I didn’t assess or notice during my emergency home visit. During that stay, I focused on the neck, and back with my massage chair. Did I look at the feet or legs? No! Common error in home emergency visits. I failed to complete a thorough assessment and let the client’s pain guide me. I did not make that mistake when the client visited me the next day in my clinic.
How important it is to do a complete assessment of the client even when doing an emergency home visit and treatment. The tendency is to attempt shortcuts to shorten the duration of the visit yet to provide some temporary relief. And that’s perhaps appropriate, however mistakes can lead to faulty or incomplete treatment and failing to relieve the client’s pain and miss the main causes of the pain.
The fact which one learns, in the field, is that ninety percent of clients are right-dominant. And approx. 50-80% of them have some imbalance in the left pectoral and trapezius. Another approx. 30-50% have tensions in the ilio-psoas, and/or ITB-Quadriceps. Many of these cases emanate from falling or depressed arches, or improperly supported high longitudinal arches due to anatomical structures.
I also have observed in assessing clients, over nine years practice, that foot dysfunction often, but not always, occurs on one foot causing an imbalance all the way up the chain to the neck. It depends on how quickly the arch dysfunction is detected and corrected.
The fact of having a dominant side muscularly means that there will be a resulting imbalance in strength, usage, and strain to the opposite weaker non-dominant side. The severity of the imbalance will depend on the extent of strain, physical fitness, and lifestyle.
Today I examined a client who had a severe cervical lateral strain on the left scalenes, anterior, lateral, and posterior, left and right trapezius, right upper thoracics, lower left thoracics where the cross-over happened, the left ITB(iliotibialband) and quadriceps, and cause of this dysfunction: an unsupported high longitudinal arch of the left foot with resulting plantar hypertonicity and pain.
So when the client told me that she had neck pain, the initial tendency of the new therapist is to ‘treat the neck’. It’s only after having spent part or most of the one-hour appointment that upon examination the therapist may or may not discover all the other related tensions leading down to the longitudinal arch.
The novice therapist will unlikely be able to put each separate muscle tension taken together and see the big picture.
So, based on my experience, the first place to start treating the client is the quadriceps and ITB releasing that tension. My reason for starting the treatment there is because this is the core of the body where the tension focuses its energy.
Then proceeding with the opposite adductors which will be stressed because of compensation. I did observe hypertonic right adductors longus, brevis, and pectinius.
Next I treated the dominant right ilio-psoas which was the least tight, then the left ilio-psoas which was the most strained. This brought me to the pectorals which were strained on the left non-dominant side, and the rib heads at ribs 5—6-7 on the right side had been strained in compensation to the left tight pectoral major. The scalenes on the left side were all hypertonic, anterior, lateral, and posterior. Using some isometric techniques on all three muscles assisted in relieving the reduced mobility in sidebending . All of this therapy is done in the supine position.
The feet are treated with the client in prone position as I find it easier for the body mechanics of the therapist to bend the client’s knee and have the foot at a height which is easier to treat the plantar surface.
Then the client is placed in the prone position with face down and the posterior neck, and trapezius are treated. The serratus and rhomboids can also be released. There will be more tension observed in the levator scapulae and rhomboid minor on the right side as compensation.
The upper right thoracics and lower left thoracics result in the cross-over tension from left foot/leg into the back to the right neck.
So it’s important for the novice therapist not to jump to conclusions when being presented with a sore neck. The problem may reside down in the arches.
Prescribed rehab for the client included purchasing a set of full sole orthotic insoles.
Sidebends for the thoracics, quad stretches for the left leg, and adductor stretches for the right leg, trapezius stretch for both sides, and regular monthly maintenance preventative massage treatments to detect or prevent further imbalances.
That’s how to spend a productive hour.
In my clinic I also use pranic healing techniques on clients which understand the benefits of holistic healing. (Treating the total person- physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual)
On the Pranic Energy level, the healing always begins with an invocation for the assistance and Divine Guidance and Divine Protection of the Supreme Being, Spiritual Helpers and Teachers, Masters and Mentors, Angels and Saints for blessings and healings, with thanks, in full faith.
For more information about Pranic Healing visit the national association website:
The aura was cleansed with some general sweeping, removing the depleted energy into a salt-water bowl. I also used a thorough chakra and organ cleanse of depleted prana(chi) with ‘brilliant living water’. This is a meditation-visualization learnt by Master Choa Kok Sui. The meditation and visualization consists of a thorough cleanse of organs and chakras descending from the crown to the feet, covering all organs and chakras. This is the advanced equivalent of ‘Brilliant white light’ waterfall which is used in a general waterfall cleanse from the crown chakra down through the body to the sole minor chakras and disposed into the ground. Other waterfalls which can be used are the ‘Brilliant emerald green’ waterfall or the ‘Brilliant amethyst violet’ waterfall visualizations from crown chakra to sole minor chakras. These meditations were taught by Master Stephen Co through his online Tuesday evening meditations on ‘pranatalk.com’.
The chakras were then assessed for activity level and or congestion. They were found to be normal as the client had her aura and chakras previously treated and normalized one month before.
The aura can be sealed with a protective seal of electric violet light with a program of divine protection being willed into the seal for a duration until the next appointment, allowing depleted prana out of the body .
The energy which has been communicated is then stabilized and the energy released to the client.
The client is advised not to bathe or shower for 12-24 hours to assist in the pranic healing absorption and efficiency.
The healing ends with a giving of thanks to the Divine Supreme Being, to the Spiritual Helpers and Great Ones for their healings and blessings. So be it, so be it, so be it.
Roger Fontaine, 799-3663
Shapes Fitness Centre, 12-1150 Nairn Avenue Winnipeg MB R2L0Y5