If you’ve been injured at work, you may find, even after your injury has healed, that you don’t have the same strength or endurance that you used to. This is a common situation. After all, doctors often tell patients to rest their bodies or injured body parts while recuperating. So it’s not surprising that some additional therapy may be required to get your muscles or other body parts back to where they need to be so you can do your job well again.

That’s where work conditioning and work hardening comes into play. Work conditioning focuses on restoring your physical capabilities to do your job: increasing strength, endurance, flexibility, motor control, and cardiovascular function. The goal is to get back to work and not get hurt again. It’s not much different than how NFL players do a training camp to get ready for the season.

If your doctor advises you to begin work conditioning, your program may include some combination of the following:

• Cardio workouts such as treadmill running or active walking
• Weight training/circuit training
• Balance activities
• Home exercise training that may continue even as you return to work
• Nutrition counseling to help with weight loss
• Goal training
• Occupational therapy
• Vocational therapy
• Safety instructions related to your body and job functions

You may have heard of work hardening. Work hardening is different from work conditioning in that it focuses more on behaviors, education, and safety.

A work conditioning regimen is usually intensive. You may be putting in four to eight hours a day for five days a week on the high end. Usually, patients in a work conditioning program need two to four weeks before they get the green light to return to work.

If you are an injured worker, and your body has been “deconditioned” due to rest and/or time off from your job, you may be advised to start a work conditioning program. This is a medical benefit that is available to any injured Illinois worker as long as it’s prescribed by your doctor. If you’ve been off work for a while and are worried about re-injuring yourself, you should ask your doctor if work conditioning is a good idea for you.

If you have any questions about this or a potential workers compensation case, don’t hesitate to contact us by filling out our contact form or calling us at 312-346-5578. We have a state-wide network of attorneys so we can help with cases anywhere in Illinois.