5 Tips for a Smooth Transition Back to Work After a Sports Injury

Staying active has become one of the most common ways of spending leisure time away from work. This is especially important for those workers who hold sedentary jobs seated seven or more hours a day at a desk or an assembly line. If you don’t get enough exercise in your day-to-day life, chances are you spend as much free time as you can pursuing athletics.

Maybe you’ve just broken your leg on a winter holiday in the Alps for a week of skiing or maybe you’ve slipped on an icy patch while out jogging one morning before work. In any case, that injury may have led to days, or weeks, off work and it’s now time to transition back to the job. It probably isn’t going to be easy based on the severity of your injury, but there are things you can do to make the transition easier than you had imagined. These five tips should help.

1. Wait Until You Are No Longer Taking Prescription Pain Medications

Although you ‘think’ you are not impaired by narcotic painkillers, there is every likelihood those pharmaceuticals can impede your brain function as well as your movements. At home, you could simply sit at your favourite recliner with the TV going full blast but at work, you will be required to move around, at least to some extent. Many mistakes and accidents at work can be avoided if you are comfortable enough with a simple aspirin. In fact, many employers will not let you return while taking heavy pain meds for insurance purposes and your safety, so do wait until they are no longer necessary!

2. Schedule Therapy and Doctor Appointments Weekends or After Hours

Some jobs are more flexible than others. Sometimes you can take a couple of hours off for visits to the doctor or physical therapist and other times it would necessitate a lengthy trip by public transport added to the time spent with your therapist. Many physical therapy clinics offer evening hours for people who need to maintain a full-time job. An example of this can be seen through wimbledonclinics.co.uk who are open weekdays until 8pm, which is ideal for anyone who’s going to be stuck at work all day. With this clinic, you can even schedule a free phone consultation with them which will save you having to go in to speak to someone first.

If at all possible, schedule your appointments so that they won’t require you to take time off from work.

3. Find a Mobile Physical Therapy Team

If you do a bit of research, you can often find a physical therapist who will come to you. These may have evening hours where they can work with you at your home but if not, many employers will allow you to get your therapy at your place of employment. Perhaps a conference room or a vacant office would suffice.

4. Get an Office Buddy to Help You Around

Do you have that one special co-worker who has become your friend over the years? Why not enlist the assistance of a co-worker to help you navigate your place of employment a bit easier. They can hold doors open for you, especially at elevators, and even carry your tray at the lunchroom if needed. Whether you are on crutches, in a wheelchair or have an arm in a cast or sling, that extra help getting around will be an invaluable aid.

5. Don’t Expect Too Much Too Soon

Once you’ve been laid off for a period of time, you can’t expect to jump immediately back into the saddle. Some people who have spent several weeks laid up at home are anxious to prove they can be valuable team members again. Not only will this make you a nervous wreck trying to ‘prove’ yourself, but it can leave you open to further injuries as well. Don’t expect too much too soon. Give yourself time to readjust to the routine and others will almost always follow suit. They will get their cues from you and if you are moving slower than usual, they won’t be rushing you either.

If you have used all your leave time and pay while laid up injured after a sports injury, you may have a financial need to get back to work. Even so, don’t expect to be working at your previous level if the injury was severe. Give yourself ample time to readjust and don’t be afraid to ask for help if help is needed. Most employers will make accommodations for you if they understand what you need. You might be surprised at how willing your co-workers are to help you get back to work. You’ve missed the job, but they’ve missed you as well! Remember, the slower you take it, the smoother the transition will be.

Contributing author:  Jenna Hilton <contactjennahilton@gmail.com>

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