How conditioned is your body for the day-to-day tasks you do at your job? It may seem strange to think about, but many of the injuries that people sustain at work could have been avoided with some simple work conditioning treatments. Work conditioning typically occurs after an injury has been sustained and it consists of several targeted movements and exercises to help an injured employee recover. If you have been injured at work, contact Activa Physical Therapy today to find out how work conditioning can benefit you!

What is work conditioning?

Work conditioning is a program that patients can participate in only after their acute or chronic injuries have been managed. They will receive traditional rehabilitation treatments for their injury as deemed appropriate by one of our Naperville and Burr Ridge, IL physical therapists. Once the rehabilitation is complete and the injury is healed, work conditioning can begin. It is considered one of the final steps of the rehabilitation process to prepare someone to return to work.

Before you begin your work conditioning program, you and your physical therapist will discuss realistic and functional return-to-work goals that you’d like to achieve within a certain time frame. Your physical therapist will make sure that you are pain-free, as well as restriction-free in your range of motion before creating a work conditioning plan to fit your needs.

Work conditioning is always condition-specific, as it is targeted toward the physically demanding duties of your job. For example, if you work in carpentry and you recently recovered from a shoulder injury that occurred on the job, you may be asked to perform certain tasks such as hammering above your head or lifting weights for a designated amount of time, in order to strengthen the shoulder and condition your body for the work you will have to do once you return.

The main idea of work conditioning is to regain function and increase strength, in order to return to work in a timely manner and prevent any additional injuries from occurring again.

How will work conditioning benefit me?

Work conditioning programs typically focus on five main components for preparing you to return to work:

  1. Strength
  2. Flexibility
  3. Posture
  4. Aerobic conditioning
  5. Work stimulation

Your physical therapist will create a personalized work conditioning plan for your specific needs. While all conditioning is different, it is centered around the same goal: returning you to work. Your conditioning plan will consist of specific exercises, stretches, and physical activities that will allow you to achieve your maximum physical ability in each of the main components.

Once you achieve successful progress in each component, you and your physical therapist will discuss if you are ready to return to work, or if a work hardening program is necessary.

What is work hardening?

Work hardening is a treatment program that is similar to work conditioning but focuses more on strengthening certain body parts and reaching your optimum physical performance for the duties of your job. Work hardening comes after work conditioning, as it works with enhancing a body part that has already been conditioned. If you have been injured at work, a work hardening program is typically the last part of your treatment program that you will complete before returning to work. The main focus of work hardening is to get you into peak physical shape for performing your job, so you can return with a much lower risk of sustaining an additional injury. If you are recovering from a work injury and you are interested in learning more about our work hardening programs, contact Activa Physical Therapy today.

What does work hardening do?

When you participate in a work hardening program, you will be asked to simulate primary job functions within the clinic while being supervised by one of our Naperville and Burr Ridge, IL physical therapists. For example, if you sustained a back injury from lifting heavy objects, you may be asked to lift weights while using proper form and technique (which would have been taught to you during your earlier conditioning with your physical therapist). You will also be asked to do certain exercises to strengthen the legs and core, in order to make sure that you are in the best shape possible for returning to work with the lowest possible risk of injury.

Work hardening may be done in a group setting or independently with a physical therapist. In a group setting, you will work on your own specific tasks that are required for returning to work. Work hardening treatment programs are an ideal way for you to return to work without fear or likelihood of sustaining another work-related injury.

How will work hardening benefit me?

Work hardening is an individualized intervention program, meaning that your physical therapist will design your tasks around your specific requirements for returning to work. This will be dependent upon the nature of your condition, your medical history, the physical demands of your job, and your level of recovery. These programs are highly structured and goal-oriented, focusing around the exercises and activities necessary for preparing your body to return to work. You will likely have smaller goals to accomplish along the way before making it to the finish line and returning back to the daily duties of your career.

Work hardening programs are typically multidisciplinary, focusing on multiple different aspects of improving physical function. This generally includes a focus on balance, posture, flexibility, strength, mobility, and overall function. They are designed to address and improve the workplace environment as a whole, such as productivity, physical tolerances, worker behavior, and (most importantly) safety. With our work hardening programs at Activa Physical Therapy, you will be able to return to work with confidence that you can perform your work efficiently, free from pain or injury.

Contact us in Burr Ridge today!

Work is hard enough without the fear of sustaining another injury. Our highly-trained physical therapists and advanced methods of treatment will help you get in the best shape possible for performing the physical demands of your job. If you’ve recently sustained an injury and you are hesitant about returning to work, contact our Naperville and Burr Ridge, IL physical therapy office today to request an appointment. Our physical therapists will discuss the best course of action for preparing you to return to work with confidence and without pain. Don’t let another injury slow you down – decrease the probability with work hardening and conditioning!