7 benefits that work conditioning programs can offer

In 2022, researchers recorded 2,804,200 nonfatal work injuries in the United States. And we believe that many of the people who were injured could have benefited from work conditioning. A work conditioning program is a structured, work injury recovery-focused physical therapy program. This program could be ideal for injured workers who either can’t work or whose ability to work is limited by their injury.

A work conditioning program’s goal is to help people return to work and reduce their risk of further injury. Physical therapists can help you meet this goal through specific, measurable activities. These activities involve cardiovascular fitness, flexibility and strength, and simulations of work-related tasks. Patients may often do these activities in a group. A work conditioning program that’s designed specifically for your needs can have several specific benefits.

7 benefits that work conditioning programs can offer

  • Restoring your ability to complete work-related tasks — Your physical therapist can assess your injured area and locate the specific source of your injury. They can then determine which work tasks your injury will affect and create a program of activities to help you get back to doing those tasks normally. 
  • Improving cardiovascular function — Exercises that work your heart and lungs are a key part of work conditioning plans. Many of the exercises your physical therapist could have you do may help boost the health of your heart and lungs, even if their primary goal is something else. As a result, you may leave work conditioning with a healthier, more work-ready heart and lungs.
  • Improving muscle mobility — If you have muscle tightness, your physical therapist may use a manual therapy technique called soft tissue mobilization as part of your work conditioning sessions. First, they can conduct an assessment to locate specific muscles that are stiff or tight. Soft tissue mobilization allows your therapist to break up scar tissue that may be causing your muscle tightness. They will perform this technique by using their hands to apply pressure to and perform massage-like movements on the affected muscle(s). Some benefits of this technique may include reduced pain and improved mobility. 
  • Improving joint mobility — If you pull a muscle in your neck or back, your work conditioning program may include joint mobilization. Joint mobilization is a manual therapy technique. The goal of this technique is to loosen your tight joints. In joint mobilization, your physical therapist will use their hands to put pressure on your joints for a brief period. For example, let’s say you have an injured shoulder joint from being hunched over on your laptop. By using their hands to gently move your injured shoulder joint, your physical therapist can loosen up this joint and the muscles that support it. A more flexible shoulder joint means that your body may be more inclined to be in an upright position when you are working on your laptop again.
  • Improving muscle strength — Resistance and endurance exercises are commonly used types of therapeutic exercises. These exercises can help treat neck, back and knee pain. The goal of these exercises is to improve your muscle strength. Improving your muscle strength can improve your balance, which may reduce your likelihood of slipping or falling at work.
  • Improving balance and muscle coordinationBalance and coordination are essential to many people’s work. Your muscular and skeletal systems help coordinate your muscles. This coordination helps you do things like lift boxes and walk to the conference room for meetings. Your physical therapist may have you perform therapeutic exercises to improve your balance and coordination. For instance, they might have you balance on one leg for some specified amount of time. This activity helps your leg muscles get better at keeping you balanced. As a result, you may find it easier to lift objects, walk, and do other work-related tasks that rely on balance and coordination.
  • Preventing further injury — Physical therapy techniques can help reduce muscle tightness. In soft tissue mobilization, your physical therapist may use their hands to break up knots in muscle tissue, making the muscle(s) more flexible. More flexible muscles can in turn help reduce your risk of future injury. For example, if you trip on an object on the ground, having more muscle flexibility can allow you to get into an upright position before you fall down. As a result, you may not fall and injure yourself.

Work conditioning programs can help you manage your work-related injury

Physical therapists can personalize work conditioning programs for each individual. This means that your work conditioning program involves PT techniques that most apply to your injury.

Here are three work-related injuries that work conditioning programs can help with:

  • Muscle strains — Common muscle strains at work include neck and back strains. These strains may occur if workers try to lift an object that is too heavy for their body to support. Physical therapists may offer soft tissue mobilization, as discussed earlier. For example, after lifting a heavy object and straining your shoulder muscle, you may develop scar tissue in the injured area. Soft tissue mobilization can help break up this scar tissue. If your scar tissue is broken up, your shoulder muscle may be more flexible and less likely to get injured again.
  • Falls — If you fall at work, you may injure your back. A manual therapy technique that can help reduce your back pain is strain-counterstrain. Your physical therapist will locate the part of your injured area most sensitive to pain. They will then use one hand to apply pressure to the body and move your back muscles into a position that is less painful. At the same time they will use their other hand to apply pressure in the opposite direction. This additional and opposite pressure allows your therapist to take even more pressure off the targeted muscles. By doing so, your therapist is allowing the muscles to relax deeply, which is intended to release the tension in them and help reduce your back pain.
  • Injuries from repeated movements — You may injure yourself at work through repeated movements. Repeated movements may tighten your joints. Physical therapists can use manual therapy techniques to loosen up your joints. One example is joint mobilization, as discussed earlier.

Have a work-related injury? Whatcom PT can help your work-related injury through our work conditioning program

At Whatcom PT, we value high-quality patient care and innovative techniques for recovery. Our goal is to promote patient independence and self-care through exercise.

Have an injury that is preventing you from completing your job? Whatcom PT offers a work-conditioning program that can help you return to work. Our physical therapists can develop a plan that fits your specific work injury’s needs and your recovery goals. Such a plan may include techniques we often use to treat work injuries, such as joint mobilization and therapeutic exercises.

Added to the benefits above, Whatcom PT’s work conditioning program offers the following added benefits:

  • Acceptance of all workers’ compensation insurances.
  • Extended treatment hours — including early morning and evening.
  • Availability of same-day appointments.
  • Regular communication with shareholders for workers’ compensation.

Call us or request an appointment today to learn more about our work conditioning program.