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Manual Handling Blog Series- Part 1

Hi, I’m Catherine and I’m the trained Trainer here at Connect2Kent. One of the most important courses I deliver is Manual Handling for Care Support Workers and RGNs. This a compulsory training course which must be taken before a candidate can start work, followed by a refresher course annually. Practical manual handling involves learning how to assist in the moving and handling of service users and working with the service users and your colleagues. There is also an important theory element to the training, which I will look at in this series of blogs.

The spine and how to protect it

Manual handling is about protecting you as an agency worker, as well as your service users. We all know that back pain can be extremely painful and debilitating so it makes sense to have some understanding of your spine and how to protect it.

Your spine has 3 main curves and is made up of 33 vertebrae – 24 individual, with the rest being fused together. It provides you with:

  • Central support
  • Attachments for muscles and ligaments
  • Allows movement to occur
  • Protection for your spinal cord and nerve roots
  • Absorption of postural strain

Between your vertebrae there are discs. These space out your vertebra and reduce friction. They also absorb shock. Your discs go through a lot of wear and tear as you move normally on a day to day basis, add in working in a physical job such as care work, and they become vulnerable to damage.

Your discs are very close to the nerve roots which are protected by your spine. If a disc is pushed out of place through an injury or damage due to general use, then it will push against these nerve roots. Your nerves travel from your spine to different parts of your body which is why damage to your back can result in pain such as sciatica – this is pain in the sciatic nerve which runs from its roots in your spine and down through your leg. We have all either suffered this pain or know someone who has!

So how do we protect ourselves from pain?

It isn’t possible to avoid using your spine, so general wear and tear will inevitably have an effect. As we get older, we’ve used our bodies for longer so some decline is an unfortunate fact of life! The number one thing we can do to protect our backs is being aware of our posture. If you are picking something up from the floor, do so like a 2-year-old does – feet apart, knees bent, back straight and keep your head up. If you are carrying something, keep it close to you. Looking after yourself at work can feel more difficult, especially if manual handling is part of your job.

 In future blogs, I will look at more manual handling theory and how you can look after yourself, as well as your service users. 

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