Warmer weather and reopening of gyms and health clubs could prompt many to renew exercise routines. But if you are recovering from a serious work injury, training for the half-marathon or signing up for crossfit is out of the question.
Fortunately, even moderate exercise benefits physical and mental health. The problem for injured workers is that even supposedly moderate activity may fall outside safe activity limitations.
So what can an injured worker do to maintain their overall health through exercise?
Talk to your doctor and physical therapist
Injured workers need to communicate with their doctors and physical therapists about what kinds of activities they can do safely. Sometimes workers are reluctant to communicate with doctors or therapists because they don’t trust the providers. They don’t trust their doctors and physical therapists because they believe the providers are influenced by their employer or workers compensation insurer. Bluntly, this belief is sometimes well-founded.
But asking about ways to safely stay active is one way to at least curry some favor with a medical doctor or therapist who might sympathize with an employer. Medical providers like patients who want to take part in their own recovery from an injury.
Exercise and credibility
Another group of learned professionals tends to like injured workers who try to stay active despite an injury – workers compensation judges. I think active clients persuade judges for a few reasons. I think Judges read medical records closely and pick up whether doctors like and believe plaintiffs. Doctors like patients who live a healthy lifestyple.
Activity also tends to improve vital signs like blood pressure, weight and resting pulse that are included in the medical records that judges read. Improvements in those vital signs are objective evidence that an employee is actively trying to recover from an injury.
Client credibility matters in workers’ compensation cases because believability often tips the scale on issues like whether an injury is covered by workers compensation and the extent of benefits payable for a work injury. In my experience, the injured worker who does their best to stay active in a safe way tends to win those credibility questions.
Occasionally workers who claim to be unable to work get caught on video doing strenuous exercise. Nevermind, that most workers’ compensation fraud isn’t committed by employees, stories like this are grist for the myth that workers’ compensation cases are almost per se fraudulent. But I believe that a judge can distinguish between someone doing a moderate exercise like walking versus a strenuous exercise like heavy weightlifting or long distance running.