7 ways to fight pain while flying

Spa & Health | Written By, NOW!Singapore | June 11th, 2015

By: Dr Gary Tho

There’s nothing worse than going on holiday and getting a bad neck or back pain during the journey there. Whether it’s a two-hour flight or a long 18 hours, our transit comfort will determine our fate. Being cramped in a small space for a prolonged duration (and losing valuable inches of leg room from the reclined chair in front of you) can cause all sorts of discomfort, aches and pains. Here are seven quick fixes for pain-free travelling.

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Dr Gary Tho is the founder of ChiroWorks, a healthcare clinic specialising in peak performance for anyone who can’t afford an ‘off’ day. His clients include executives, corporates, professional athletes and artists. He is also a speaker & writer. Dr Gary conducts a variety of engaging health workshops and his book, ‘The Pain-Free Desk Warrior – No More Aches and Pains,’ will be launched in mid-2015. Dr Gary hopes to change the world, one posture at a time.



1.         Support Your Back

Instead of sitting on the front half of the seat and slouching back, sit with your bottom all the way back into the chair. Placing a small pillow, or tightly rolled piece of clothing, in the small of your back will help keep your natural arch, reducing strain on your muscles, joints, ligaments and nerves.


2. Stretch Your Hips

Here’s an effective stretch you can do to relieve stress and tension in your back and hips without invading your neighbour’s precious space. Cross your right leg over the left, by placing your right ankle on your left knee. Next, sit upright and slowly lean forward. Enjoy the right hip stretch for 20-30 seconds and then repeat on the left.


3.  Stand up and walk

The most obvious way to help alleviate a bad back is to move. Unless you have great abdominal muscle control to do seated pelvic tilts, getting up for a walk is a great way to move your back. It does mean you need to peel your eyes off the screen but just five minutes of walking will help you sit comfortably through another 30 minutes of your movie, so it is well worth it.


4. Chest Stretch

Stretching your chest and shoulders is another great way to alleviate headaches, neck and shoulder strain. Here’s the first of two stretches you can do that can be done without annoying your neighbour. To stretch your chest, sit on the front half of your seat. Next, interlace your fingers behindyour back. Roll your shoulders back and down, pressing your hands down towards the floor while lifting your chest at the front. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeat.


5. Neck Stretch

Pain relief using neck stretching can be as simple as 1, 2, 3.

Step 1:

Tilt your head to the right side, bringing your right ear towards your right shoulder.


Step 2:

Slowly tilt your head down forwards, bringing your chin to your chest. (Remember to keep your right ear towards your shoulder.)


Step 3:

Slowly come back up to the starting position and repeat on the left side.



6. Chin Tuck

We often end up sitting in a curled ‘fetal position’, with our backs rounded and our heads sticking forward. This common posture adopted while using smartphones, tablets and laptops constantly strains the neck muscles and compresses the discs and joints in the lower neck. The chin tuck will help reset your posture and reduce the strain of the forward head position. Simply sit upright with your head against the headrest and tuck your chin down towards your throat, essentially giving yourself a double chin! By doing this you will strengthen your deep neck muscles and stretch the tight, aching muscles at the back of the neck.


7.  Get Adjusted

Most people who suffer from neck or back pain during travel are likely to have a history of a bad neck or a bad back. If you do, instead of trying to alleviate pain once it’s surfaced, it’s much easier to prevent it. Stretching or massage are great to relieve muscle tension but may not fix your back pain. This is because there are more pain-causing body parts than just the muscles. Getting adjusted by a qualified health care professional restores your natural position, your stability and the mobility of your spinal bones and joints. This reduces the stress and tension on muscles and ligaments and decompresses discs and nerves. When you’re well adjusted, your body can cope and adapt to all sorts of stress easier, which includes being able to sit for extended periods of time without feeling pain.






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