Habits – Changing of Habits Requires More than a ‘One Off’ Training Session.


With the speed and demands of this busy world and the need to ‘tick a box’ to meet compliance, too often businesses run a training session, record it in their training register and then don’t re-visit it until they do a refresher, in a years’ time; not all businesses, but for many, it’s standard practice.

Hence the claim that ‘the training we invested in hasn’t worked.’

In order for Manual Handling training to be effective, individuals need to practice what they’ve learnt often enough so that it becomes a habit. 

The definition of a habit is something we do automatically, without conscious thought. It’s the same for any physical training  –  whether it be kicking a ball over a goal post, hitting a lob at a tennis net, or knowing what to do in an earthquake.

With recent advancements in  neuroscience,  the basis for the formation of habits is becoming more clear; however, you don’t have to be a neuroscientist to  know it takes practice to create a habit.

 One of the issues in this busy world is that we might have all the good intentions to practice but, then, ……………we forget!!

An essential component of creating a habit is the need for a cue to remind us to practice.  This is illustrated by  Charles Duhiggs’ Habit Loop.

Charles Duhiggs' Habit Loop
Charles Duhiggs’ Habit Loop

 A cue, in this instance, is defined by an everyday activity. For instance, it may be (cues in italics):

  • To practice your diaphragmatic breathing every time you have a coffee.
  • To do your calf stretches immediately after your lunch break. 
  • To check your Linked In profile on the bus trip on the way home.

 One point of difference with Proventions’ very successful First Move Manual Handling programme is that it prioritises and reinforces an implementation of this cue to practice.

Individuals might leave a training session with good intentions to practice what they have learnt  but the subconscious nervous system is very powerful and people will revert, unless there is a concerted effort to bed in the desirable new habits they have been taught.

Examples of some cues we use at Provention:

  • Pickers in a warehouse environment:

The cue could be the  first 5 boxes they stack on every pallet.

They will be taught to move  their feet to avoid twisting the lower back.  Once this becomes automatic, they will adopt the movement principle they have practiced to instead move with balance when they are reaching and bending.

The cue of  the first 5 boxes of each pallet  reinforces  the desirable movement principle.

  • Boners in a meat works:

The cue could be in the first 1 minute after they return to work after a break.

They might initially practice leading the grip with their pinky finger to avoid strain on their forearm. Once this becomes automatic, they may then  practice  the movement principle they’ve been shown to move their hip joints when working across the bench.

The cue of the first minute after a break reinforces the desirable movement principle.

If you are struggling personally to change a habit, or you want to help individuals in the work place change their habits, then work in teams to pick a cue and get team leaders or influencers to remind your people on a regular basis.

 It may be as simple as a reminder in a pre-start, such as ‘hey team remember for the first 5 boxes to think about moving your feet.’

 Little and often is what it takes to change a habit.  This will ensure you get a return on your training investment and improve individuals’ physical well-being.

 Contact us if you would like more info on how to implement a successful manual handling programme and reduce strain related injuries in your workplace. 

Latest Articles

Shoulder injuries in the Aging Workforce

Shoulder injuries are common in the ‘aging’ workforce and often result in considerable time off work and a lengthy (and frustrating) road to recovery for the individual concerned. Pain, in or [...]

To Warm-Up, or Not to Warm-Up?

A group warm-up programme not only helps prevent injuries but can foster team culture and unity.  Check out this video showcasing one of our warm-up exercises, the Rugby Line Out. This [...]

Physical Intelligence.

Consider a scenario where many individuals are engaged in identical tasks within a working environment. Injuries may occur in some, while others remain unscathed. For instance, in an abattoir, some [...]
Provention’s First Move programmes equip individuals with the knowledge to move, think and look after their physical well-being, creating habitual movement and preventing injury.
© 2024 Provention
Trainers Privacy policy

Sustainable website by Wild Tree Digital