Injured at Work? Exercising to get back to work, faster

Getting injured can be a real pain, literally. But if it stops you from being able to work, it can also hurt your income. Here’s what you need to know if you want to return to work after injury, quickly!

Injuries at work – Let’s look at the stats!

In 2015-16 there were 104,770 Australian worker’s compensation claims with 90% of claims due to injury and musculoskeletal disorders. The top three mechanisms of injury were:

  • Body stressing / manual handling of objects
  • Falls, trips and slips of a person
  • Being hit by moving objects

The most common parts of the body to to sustain injury were the back (both upper and lower), shoulder and knee.

Returning to work – Sooner may be better than later!

The return to work process can be daunting, particularly when you may have to return to the activity that caused the injury in the first place. It’s natural to feel tentative, worried and to experience some fear about going back to work. However, the longer that someone is off work, the more likely they are never to return.

You also don’t have to be 100% well to be at work. Workplace rehabilitation is the means of supporting an injured worker back to safe and suitable work at the earliest possible time. Some of the benefits of returning to work as soon as possible include:

  • Improved general health and well-being
  • Work can help in recovery from injury and illness
  • An early, supported return to work can reduce the risk of longer-term disability
  • Reducing the likelihood of work disability and unemployment
  • Staying active after injury reduces pain symptoms and helps workers return to their usual activities at work and at home sooner

work and exercise

 How can an exercise physiologist support your rehabilitation?

Exercise Physiologists are allied health professionals who have the skills to support your rehabilitation and recovery from a physical, mental, and social perspective. An exercise physiologist can:

  • Help you understand your diagnosis and condition, and how this may impact on your ability to perform your daily activities and your work
  • Assist you with setting goals for your daily life and your work life
  • Prescribe you with the right type of exercise to help achieve your goals
  • Help you develop a plan so you can independently continue your journey to recovery


Exercise Physiologists who work as Occupational Rehabilitation Consultants can support your rehabilitation by:

  • Developing an appropriate recovery at work plan
  • Assessing your capacity to perform your duties safely
  • Collaborating with you, your medical team, and your employer to ensure that your rehabilitation is safe, durable and appropriate
  • Helping you to understand your rights and responsibilities within the compensation scheme


Our three tips for returning to work

1. Ask questions, and lots of them!

Ask your medical team questions about your diagnosis, treatments, expected outcomes and time-frames for recovery. Talk your employer about options to return to work, even if you are not 100% well. Lastly, ask you Rehabilitation Consultant for support with returning to work and obtaining information

2. Return to work as soon as possible

Talk to your medical team about what you are physically able to do and then chat to your employer. Ask for a Rehabilitation Consultant to help you with the process.

3. Stay Active and Stay Positive

Try to continue your normal routine even if it means making a few adjustments. Ask for help if you are feeling down or worried. There are plenty of support services that can help you.

exercise physiologist

Rhea is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist & Occupational Rehab Consultant