What to Wear to Physical Therapy

Before going to a physical therapy appointment, you may have some questions or concerns about what to expect. One of the most common questions that patients often ask is “What do I wear?” When deciding what to wear it is important to consider what kind of treatment you are getting and what activities your therapist has planned for you. Sometimes physical therapy can involve heat or cold treatments or even treatments that include electrical stimulation, so you should always consider this before dressing for an appointment. It is also of utmost importance that you are comfortable and able to move freely in whatever you wear. For this reason, athletic wear is often the reliable choice for most patients. While it depends on patient preferences and conditions, most patients choose to wear a loose fitting shirt and loose fitting shorts or pants that have an elastic waistband. Choosing the right outfit can help you make the most out of your physical therapy experience! 

Why What You Wear Matters for PT

When receiving treatment for a certain injury or condition it is critical for your physical therapist to have access to the area and for you to have a certain level of mobility. Tight or restricting clothes may not allow you to complete the stretches or exercises that your therapy requires. Additionally, dangling accessories or jewelry can get in the way during treatment. You should also consider bringing a hair tie if you have long hair that may get in the way. Oftentimes, in order to properly assess and treat an injury, a physical therapist may need to visualize or palpate the injured area. Improper clothing choices can limit their ability to do so. This can slow down your healing process and prohibit your physical therapist from helping you. It is always important for a patient to be comfortable during their treatment and what you wear can go a long way in helping.

Be Mindful of Where You Are Getting Treatment 

The area of your body that is being treated will often affect what you should wear to physical therapy. If your neck is the focus area for your appointment, you should make sure to wear something like a loose t-shirt that will allow your therapist to see and move your neck. This is also a smart choice if you have a shoulder or a back injury. Loose shirts allow your therapist access to your injury and give them a better way to assess and treat you. If you have an injured hand, wrist, or arm make sure to wear a short sleeve or sleeveless shirt. If your injury is in your lower back, hips, or lower body, shorts are the best choice and they ideally should have an elastic or at least flexible waistband. 

Don’t Forget Proper Footwear!

Patients often ask what kind of shoes are best for physical therapy as well. You should always avoid wearing sandals, flip flops, or any other open toed shoes to your appointment. This is also true of any casual slip on shoes like crocs or uncomfortable shoes like high heels. Sometimes a physical therapist may require you to participate in activities like walking or jogging and improper shoes could make it difficult or even dangerous. The best footwear choice for physical therapy is a comfortable pair of sneakers and some socks. If you are experiencing a foot or ankle injury, make sure to wear the pair of sneakers you use most often in case your therapist wants to observe how you walk and stand on a daily basis. You should always be wearing sneakers that are comfortable and give you good support for your activities. Wearing the correct clothes and shoes to physical therapy can make all the difference!

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