What to Wear to your Physical Therapy Appointment
By: Dr. Rachel Thomson, PT, DPT
Keyways to optimize and enhance your Physical Therapy Treatment sessions- simply with a change of clothes!
Have you ever wondered what you should wear to physical therapy? This is something I commonly think about in the clinic when I work with my patients. I want to provide the best care I can to my patients and sometimes I will make wardrobe recommendations to do so.
Ultimately, the key to optimizing your physical therapy sessions will be to wear Loose-fitting attire to allow motion, accessibility, and visibility.
1. Physical Therapy typically contains exercise during your hour treatment session. Wearing looser clothing will make it easier to move, stretch, and use equipment. For example, low back pain is a common chief complaint amongst my patients, and decreased flexibility is typically a contributing factor- thus stretching is a main component of their exercise program. Jeans and other professional attire may not allow the motion needed to stretch so if you are coming straight from work, bringing a change of clothes (shorts, t-shirt, leggings if not being treated for your knee) may be beneficial.
2. Allow visibility and accessibility- if you are coming to physical therapy following surgery, scar massage or soft tissue massage is a typical component of your program- especially for knee surgeries. Once again, loose-fitting clothing will allow easy accessibility to the body part being treated so the physical therapist can inspect the body part, massage with free up or lotion for comfort, and potentially apply electrical stimulation for pain modulation with ease. For example, if you are being seen following knee or shoulder surgery, shorts, or a tank top respectively will allow the physical therapist to easily observe and treat your body part. Leggings or long sleeves will restrict accessibility and potentially cause discomfort if rolling up the pant leg or sleeve is not an option.
3. An additional consideration is your hairstyle. If you are being seen for your shoulder, jaw or neck- wearing your hair up will again increase visibility and accessibility to the body part being treated. If you are unable to wear your hair up for the full treatment, at least bring your favorite scrunchy or ponytail holder for while your therapist is performing manual therapy such as massage or joint mobilization.
Finally, if you are not sure what to wear still, ask your physical therapist on the day of your initial evaluation. The physical therapist will have a general idea of how they wish to treat the problem you are being seen for, and ultimately, they will be able to make the best recommendations for you.