The secret to sculpting perfect posture

Variety is the key to a happy body and good posture. Picture: Shutterstock.
Variety is the key to a happy body and good posture. Picture: Shutterstock.

Sit up straight! Today we're working on our posture.

Then we shouldn't be sitting at all. Aren't they calling that the new smoking?

Correct. Studies in the US have found that people who sit for more than eight hours a day have a risk of dying that matches risks associated with obesity and, yes - smoking.

Easy, then. Just stand up straight.

Good start, but posture isn't that simple - and I've got the guru to prove it. Meet Vinh Pham, skeleton whisperer to the stars.

He's an LA-based physical therapist who's worked with Jennifer Lawrence, Tobey Maguire and Michael B Jordan on their postural problems.

Those are serious celebrity bones. What's Pham's secret?

He says poor posture isn't just about sitting for too long. We can end up with aches and pains from all the repetitive positions we adopt. In our lives we tend to stick to a limited repertoire of movements.

We sleep, walk, sit and stand the same ways every day. Pham reckons we need more moves.

So my life would improve if it just had better choreography?

It's funny you should say that. Pham has worked with ballet dancers who suffer all kinds of pains, despite their perfect posture. He teaches them to vary their movements and positions - even slouching sometimes - because any pose held for too long is bad news, even a good pose.

Variety is the key to a happy body, says Pham. He recommends changing position every 30 minutes and moving around as much as possible, all the time. Humans are dynamic, not static.

I knew it! We are designed to fidget. I wish my schoolteachers had known this. Any other wisdom from the high priest of posture?

Yes. You can read the full download in his new book Sit Up Straight: Futureproof Your Body against Chronic Pain with 12 Simple Movements.

Pham's key takeaways include: use a backpack or a cross-body bag rather than a shoulder bag to better balance your body. Don't sit completely upright when driving - tilt the seat slightly back to about 110 degrees to reduce stress on your spine.

Keep your hamstrings and glutes strong, and if you can't regularly visit somebody with magic massage hands like Pham's, use a foam roller instead.

Thanks! Got to go - my skeleton says it's time to move again.

  • Amy Cooper is a journalist who embraces wellness, but has also used kale to garnish a cocktail.

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This story Posture perfect means sometimes slouching too first appeared on The Canberra Times.