Do Manual Handling Programmes need to be Task Specific to be Effective?

This question was bought to the forefront this week after receiving feedback from individuals who had recently completed a First Move Manual Handling session:

 ✅ I applied what I learnt to my gardening sessions over the weekend and it was so much better. My back was very grateful.

 ✅ You saved my back. Sticking my butt back when bending has been a ‘life saver’. This has helped me avoid back pain at work – but also big time at the gym.

At Provention we spend time in many different industries. Commonly the requests are ‘we want our manual handling training to be task specific’ and ‘on the shop floor.’ However, experience has shown us that if you are too task specific, initially you limit the individuals’ ability to transfer the skills learnt across all aspects of their lives and across the variety of actions required of the human body during and outside of their working day.

The human body doesn’t know if it’s earning money or not.   It doesn’t know the difference between:

 ✔ stacking a pallet at work or stacking fire wood at home 
 ✔ pushing a pallet jack at work or bench pressing at the gym
 ✔ gripping a compactor on a construction site, or gripping a paint brush in DIY.
Having observed 100’s of different work places and industries, there are common actions that apply to the majority of manual handling activities (in work and out of work): eg., pushing, pulling, carrying, bending, leaning, reaching, gripping, twisting, lifting, working above shoulder height, etc.
If you initially teach individuals how to use their bodies effectively and safely when they are doing these common activities, you can then apply these safe movement principles to any activity.
Returning to the initial question – does manual handling training need to be task specific to be effective?… Our experience shows – YES – task application is important, but only after individuals understand the basics of safe movement principles.

This is illustrated in Step 3 of our Pathway to Safe Movement Habits. The pathway is the baseline of the First Move programme development and continues to be effective in successfully improving the physical well-being of many individuals.

Pathway to safe movement habits


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