Aching Back From Driving or Sitting? You Can Do Something About It

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July 15, 2009

By lynn Difley


Back pain complaints are the number one worry of most of those who live and love to travel in their RV’s. When I teach a back clinic at rallys it’s always to a full house and the back ailments, while they are as many and varied as the typical RV group, are a source of pain, discomfort, and even disability to all. What can you do to alleviate the worst stymptoms, and how can you deal with your back problem without spending a fortune on surgery, medications and chiropractic visits?

Avoid sitting for more than two hours at a time. Yes, I know this is not what you wanted to hear, but it is a fact. Sitting, whether you are driving, riding, or otherwise occupied, is very hard on the spine.

“Sitting all day is the worst thing in the world you can do for your back,” says Dr. Joel Press, medical director of the Spine and Sports Institute at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.

Sitting puts nearly twice the stress on the spine as standing, and slouching while sitting increases the pressure even more. Slouching pushes the back into a convex, or “C” shape. Staying in this position for hours, barely moving, compounds the damage done by this position. Our backs are designed for movement, as is our whole body. Movement is key to lubricating the disks that act as shock absorbers for the body. When we’re locked into this “C” position we rob our spine of important and essential nutrients. There is no regular vascular supply road to the spine–it depends on movement to provide these essesntial nutrients.

So what can we do to avoid the painful low back lock up? Change your position. Stand up, if possible, every 15 to 30 minutes, clasp your hands behind your back and stretch. Walk. Walking stirs up the blood circulation to the whole body–especially to the spine–and restores lost blood flow and brings healing nutrients to the whole spinal column. If you have to sit longer, move from a slouch to an arched back several times. Even the driver can do this. Press the lower back against the seat, round, then arch your back to release the pressure of the “C” curve position. Use a lumbar roll to help maintain the natural curve of the back.

For more detailed information and for a series of exercises for your back, go to my Web site at: where you can purchase my book, GOOD BACKS: How To Turn Your Bad Back Into A Good Back.

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  3. Bill

    I have spinal stenosis but that really only bothers me when I stand and walk. The thing that bothers me when I sit and drive a lot is the back end of my butt. It is like all the pressure is on it and it really hurts. Getting up and out and walking around for a while makes it better but once it starts it only takes about another half hour of driving to bring it back again. I have a 5er with a power seat in the truck. I have tried moving the seat forward or back, changing the height, changing the tilt of the seat with no success.

    Any suggestions on what causes this and what I can do about it?