Protect Your Back

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March 4, 2008

A news item the other day stated that people spend more money on treatment for backs than for cancer. Seemed a shocking statistic, if true, but knowing how painful and inconvenient back pain is, I can believe it. We in the RV Lifestyle put our backs through a tough situation, as does anyone who sits for prolonged periods. If you are one of the many who have problem backs, there are a number of things you can do to help protect your back from harm, and keep it from getting any worse while you are enjoying the open road.

The first thing you can do is stop sitting for a long time. Schedule stops to get out, walk and stretch at least every two hours. Not only will your back be healthier, but you will find all manner of exciting things in the world out there when you pull off the highway and look around.

Second, check your seat. Do you have a nice soft cushioned seat? And when you sit in it, is your back rounded? No wonder it’s complaining.

Backs are particular when it comes to support; they like to have plenty of it. Move your seat closer, and tilt the back slightly backward. Sit up and lean against the seat and support, instead of rounding forward, so you can press back against the back support, not curl forward. Sit without rounding and use a lumbar roll–you can buy one from a store or make one out of a towel, to pad the round arch that your back likes to have.

Sit with your hips at the back of the seat, not the middle, which encourages you to sag and round. A lumbar roll should be comfortable and supportive, not intrusive. The diameter of your forearm is about the right size for your lumbar roll. Lightly press your upper back against the back of the seat so that your lower back presses comfortably against the roll, this should verify the size. Back care or orthopedic supply houses carry lumbar rolls, made of foam or inflatable. You can also make one yourself; try a towel, folded up and rolled to just fill that curve in your lower back. It should provide a light support, not feel like it is sticking you in the back. Now sit up straight, your head in a line with your hips, your back firmly supported from top to bottom, your feet flat on the floor and see how happy your back will feel with these improvements.

Leave a Reply


  1. J. Barrie Boas

    Bonnie: What a great idea you would have plenty of business almost anywhere you stopped.

  2. Bonnie


    After reading your blog on backcare while RVing I wondered if you have ever heard of massage therapists that are available to do chair massage at campsites. My husband and I will be going full time and I thought about bringing my massage chair with me as a way to make ends meet. What are your feelings on this?

    Thank you,

  3. There’s a fantastic new book coming out called “8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back” by Esther Gokhale that’s definitely worth picking up. It has 100s of photos showing improved posture positions and also some contrarian thinking on lumbar rolls that has really (really!) helped my back when sitting and driving.

    You can pre-order it on Amazon or from her website

    Disclaimer: I have purchased the book and love it, but have no business or personal relationship to Esther.