Actual versus perceived lifting ability in healthy young men (18-25 years)

Work. 2010;36(2):157-66. doi: 10.3233/WOR-2010-1017.


Objective: Men under 25 years are at high risk of back injuries caused by manual handling. Self reports and functional capacity evaluations are commonly used to determine a worker's lifting capacity, however, amongst uninjured individuals, conflicting views exist regarding how perceived physical functioning matches actual functioning in the absence of fear of pain and/or re-injury. The aim of this study was to compare self-reports and actual lifting performance in a group of healthy young men aged 18-25 years. METHOD/PARTICIPANTS: A correlational prospective design compared perceived lifting capacity, using self-report and the Spinal Function Sort, and actual lifting capacity, using the EPIC Lift Capacity test in 31 subjects.

Results: Subjects' self-reported lifting capacity varied more widely than their actual scores, indicating that they were less accurate at predicting their lifting performance using the self-report measure. One third of subjects were able to accurately self-report their lifting performance, approximately one-third underestimated, and the remaining third overestimated their lifting ability. Only two significant relationships were identified between self-reported and actual lifting performance for frequent knuckle-shoulder and floor-shoulder lifts. These correlations were weak and well below the 0.75 level considered necessary to be clinically significant.

Conclusions: This study found that self-report measures are not suitable when used in isolation. It is therefore recommended that self-report measures are used in conjunction with functional capacity evaluations to determine lifting capacity.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Lifting*
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength
  • Perception*
  • Young Adult