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6 manual handling myths… busted!

26 June 2019

If you’re about to embark on a manual handling train the trainer course, you may come with a pre-conceived idea of what it’s all about.

That’s absolutely fine and understandable; manual handling is an area of health and safety that is often misunderstood and, unfortunately, occasionally mocked.

In reality, it’s one of the most important life skills you can obtain, and is beneficial not just for work but also the things we do in our spare time.

Here’s six of the most common manual handling myths, busted!

Myth 1: It’s just about lifting boxes correctly

Nope! This is such a common misconception about manual handling.

It’s about looking after your back, team lifting, kinetic handling, the latest regulations and what can happen as a result of poor manual handling.

In fact, picking up a box forms a relatively small part of the course, and you’d be amazed by how often we encounter manual handling during our everyday lives.

Check out this behind-the-scenes look at our manual handling train the trainer course for more of an insight to this vital area of health and safety:

Myth 2: Lifting with a hollow in your lower back is best

This is wrong and could get you into trouble if followed.

It’s accepted now that there’s far better load distribution in the discs of your spine when you maintain a flat or slightly flexed position of your lower back.

The hollow position doesn’t provide the same level of support.

Myth 3: The human spine hasn’t adapted

You may have heard that the human spine is yet to adapt to the upright posture, and that we’re somehow still designed to walk around bent over slightly.

This is, as you might imagine, not the case. The spine has adapted to our upright posture. The bones at the top of the spine are smaller because they don’t carry as much weight as those at the bottom.

This is fairly unique to humans and means we’re perfectly designed to adopt an upright posture. So, no slouching!

Myth 4: Twisting movements are bad


You’ll inevitably do a fair amount of twisting both at work and at home, but that’s absolutely fine when done correctly.

Extreme twisting movements should certainly be avoided, but if you avoid twisting altogether, you could weaken the muscles that enable you to do so and make the spine itself more vulnerable.

Myth 5: Always opt for a load that’s as light as possible

We’re all capable of picking up and moving objects that are heavy, within reason.

The more you use your back, the stronger the tissues within it will become - particularly when they’re loaded optimally.

The less you use your back, the weaker it will become, so providing the item you’re about to lift isn’t too heavy, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with exerting yourself a little.

Myth 6: Inter-vertebral discs are shock absorbers

If you’ve been told that the inter-vertebral discs in your back act as shock absorbers, that isn’t quite right.

These discs are physically too stiff to absorb shock. The real shock absorbers for your back are actually the large muscles that can be found at the front of your thighs, known as quadricep muscles.

Wrapping up

See? Manual handling isn’t just about lifting boxes! As we’ve hopefully demonstrated today, the myths surrounding manual handling can be easily busted - particularly if you undertake a train the trainer course in the subject.

Join us for a session on manual handling and you’ll leave with only the most up-to-date, appropriate information for your trainees. We have sessions running throughout the year, and you can even book them online!

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