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Appl Ergon. 2012 Jul;43(4):664-70. doi: 10.1016/j.apergo.2011.10.004. Epub 2011 Nov 8.

Effects of handle orientation and between-handle distance on bi-manual isometric push strength.

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Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, 71 Frankland Road, Hopkinton, MA 01748, USA.


Hand-handle interface is seldom considered in contemporary upper limb biomechanical analyses of pushing and pulling strength. A laboratory study was designed to examine if handle rotation in the frontal plane (0°-horizontal, 45°, and 90°-vertical), anterior tilt (0°-parallel to the frontal plane, and 15°), and distance between two handles (31 and 48.6 cm) affect pushing strength and subjective rating of handle preference. A special testing station was constructed to elicit upper limb push exertions that involved minimal contribution of the torso and legs. Within the station, four load cells were used to measure the horizontal (forward pushing) and vertical components of the pushing forces. Thirty-one participants performed seated bi-manual pushing strength tests. Comparing to the reference handle configuration (horizontal, straight, and a 31-cm between-handle distance), the 45°-rotated and tilted handles with a 31-cm between-handle distance allowed 6.7% more pushing output, while the horizontal and tilted handles with a 31-cm between-handle distance resulted in 2.8% less. Subjective preference was correlated with normalized pushing strength (r=0.89). Tilted handles, at 45°-rotated and vertical positions received highest subjective ratings of preference among all handle configurations. Men exerted greater pushing strength with the 48.6-cm handle distance while women's capacity was greatest with the 31-cm distance. The results demonstrated that handle rotation and tilt angles affected pushing strength and should be taken into consideration when evaluating or designing pushing tasks.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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