What is the objective of Manual Handling Training?

The success of manual handling training is often questioned due to numerous studies suggesting its ineffectiveness. Therefore, it is important to consider what the true purpose of this training is and whether the implemented programmes are designed to achieve those objectives. Ultimately, the goal of manual handling training should be to enhance individuals’ interaction with their surroundings; consequently reducing the risk of physical harm such as muscular discomfort and injuries related to activities like pushing, pulling, carrying, lifting, bending, and sustained gripping.

 However, the challenge lies in the fact that individuals’ daily interaction with their environment is typically done subconsciously, as it becomes a habitual behavior. Habits are defined as actions performed automatically without conscious thought. Therefore, changing a habit requires more than a simple training session. Merely providing knowledge about the spine’s vertebrae count, the consequences of ineffective bending on the spinal discs, or even demonstrating the correct lifting technique will not automatically alter ingrained habits.

Fortunately, advancements in neuroscience have shed light on habit formation. Concepts like habit loops, triggers, the duration of practice, and learning from experts have been extensively documented. In my experience, most manual handling training programmes fail to incorporate these crucial factors, which is why they often fall short in achieving their intended outcomes.

 In the upcoming four weeks, I will outline the four steps we follow when designing our manual handling programmes. The primary focus will be on transforming individuals’ movement patterns to ensure the development of safe and sustainable habits.

Pathway to safe movement habits

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