Living with Chronic Pain

What is Work Conditioning?


Work conditioning is a type of program designed to help employees return to work after time off due to injury. Work conditioning involves physical therapy and may also include occupational therapy. The primary goal of a work conditioning program is to improve the employee’s strength, endurance and flexibility so they are able to return to work and safely complete the essential duties of their job. Work conditioning programs can also help prevent reinjury and alleviate any fears about returning to work.

During a work conditioning program, a participant may:

  • complete exercises designed to improve strength, endurance and flexibility.
  • perform simulations of job-specific tasks.
  • learn about proper body mechanics and safe movement patterns.
  • learn about injury prevention.

Work conditioning programs typically consist of 2‒4 hour sessions, 3‒5 days per week for 4‒8 weeks. The time and commitment required for a work conditioning program also reacclimates the participant with general workplace behavior, such as regular attendance and punctuality.

Work conditioning programs may be especially beneficial for employees in labor-intensive professions (e.g., firefighters, construction workers, police officers, health care providers, plumbers, electricians, etc.)

Additional sources used to create this article include Robbins Rehabilitation West and PTandMe.

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