What is work conditioning/training?

Work conditioning/training is a specialized form of therapy. It's geared toward getting an injured worker ready to return to work. After completing physical or occupational therapy, you still might not be ready to go back to work. Doctors usually offer this work rehabilitation to injured workers who have been recuperating for at least 30 days. It's useful for anyone with a job that requires a lot of physical work like heavy lifting and bending.

The inactivity required while you're recuperating from an injury deconditions your body. In a short time, your endurance and strength lowers. Going back to work before you get your strength back could risk re-injury. 

That's where work conditioning comes into play. It lets you increase your activity level gradually. Therapists design programs using exercises geared to the muscle action and range of motion required for your job. Each program is different. Therapists personalize them to the patient's needs.

Goals of this type of therapy include:

  • Getting the most functionality following an illness or injury
  • Making it safer for workers to return by minimizing the chances of re-injury
  • Making it easier for workers to get back into their role, which also has a positive effect on self-esteem and confidence levels   

What to expect from work conditioning/training

Every program is a little different. You can expect to work with a therapist. The exercises will be specific to your job. Your goal is to improve strength, endurance and flexibility. Most programs share similarities.

In general, you can expect the following:

  • Having exercises that simulate the tasks you do at work
  • Being overseen by a licensed occupational or physical therapist
  • Learning how to prevent future injuries by understanding the safest ways to move 
  • Spending up to four hours every session, three to five times a week on the program
  • Undergoing a two- to four-hour test to measure your progress and ability to return to work

Common conditions that could require this treatment

Anyone who has had an injury or illness that caused them to miss work for an extended time might need this treatment. It's helpful for people with physically demanding jobs. Some of the most common workplace injuries that might need it include: 

  • Crush injuries caused by accidents with machinery
  • Repetitive stress injuries, like those caused by improper lifting
  • Back and head injuries or broken bones caused by slips and falls

Mercy Health locations that can treat you