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Promoting Activity and Work

What you say can have a major impact - use these practical communication tips


Line managers and workers have a great opportunity to provide early, positive messages about common health problems. These messages help to set expectations for recovery and staying active and working.

  • Be positive, avoid negative comments and catastrophising.

  • Focus on returning to usual activities of daily living as soon as possible.

  • Set expectations early, and discuss how it can be necessary to push beyond the 'comfort zone' in the return to work process.

  • Reassure and inform about common health problems.

  • Reinforce positive expectations, and emphasise factual information.

  • Use time off work as reluctantly as you would take a powerful drug like morphine. The detrimental effects may be just as severe.

Useful words and phrases about pain

  • Pain is a normal part of life and doesn’t necessarily indicate a serious problem: e.g. many people wake up daily with stiff muscles and joints, but this improves with movement.

  • Exercise and movement often leads to pain or discomfort in the joints and muscles, especially after unaccustomed activity.

  • Pain doesn’t mean damage or harm: e.g. athletes who train heavily experience pain, but it builds muscle and endurance, which is healthy.

  • The pain will settle – most people make an excellent recovery.



Useful words and phrases about activity

  • Movement and activity won’t cause harm – they’ll help your recovery.

  • Exercise and activity are good for you because they:

    • promote blood flow to the muscles and tissues, bringing oxygen and nutrients needed for healing

    • release endorphins, your body’s own pain-killers

    • reduce low moods and improve sleep, which help healing.

  • Gradually increase your activity early on. Modify your activities, if necessary, but stay active within tolerable pain limits.

  • Expect increased pain with increased activity – carefully push the boundaries of pain and discomfort. A gradual increase in activity is essential for a speedy recovery.

Useful words and phrases about returning to work

  • People who return to work early, even in a limited capacity, have the fastest recovery rates.

  • Going to work encourages activity, which helps your recovery.

  • Work is an important part of our lives and provides us with a daily routine and self-esteem.

  • An early return to the workplace is a very important step in your recovery process.

  • In the initial stages of your return to work, it’s important to pace yourself and take regular breaks e.g. for rest and stretching.

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