Suitable clothing for physical therapy depends on the person’s injury type. Loose-fitting clothes that expose the affected area are often a good option.

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There are two main types of physical therapy: inpatient and outpatient.

If a person is receiving inpatient treatment in a hospital setting, they will likely attend physical therapy sessions in their hospital gown. The therapist will ensure that the person is able to remain covered while moving freely.

However, if a person is attending outpatient therapy, they will need to decide what to wear. While wearing athletic clothing that exposes the injured area is a good option, it is important to check in advance with the therapist.

Read on to learn more about what to wear to physical therapy.

Upper body injuries that may require physical therapy include neck, shoulder, arms, and back injuries.

A person can wear a loose-fitting top that either exposes the injured area or that they can easily move to expose it. The therapist will need to check how the area looks and moves, and they may perform massage or a form of hot or cold therapy on the area.

If a person has a neck injury, a top that exposes the neck and upper back is a good option. People with long hair can tie their hair up.

Additionally, if a person’s injury involves their shoulders, they will likely need to remove their top. If necessary, a person may want to wear a sports bra to feel more comfortable.

People with back injuries can also wear a loose-fitting top and a sports bra, if applicable. They can consider wearing shorts or pants with an elastic waistband that they can easily roll down, as the therapist may need to work on the lower back.

The following clothing items are options people can consider wearing and avoiding for upper body physical therapy.

loose T-shirtdress shirts
loose tank toptight long-sleeve shirts
sports brasweaters

Lower body injuries that may require physical therapy include hip, leg, knee, and lower back injuries.

Hips and legs

If a person has hip pain, their physical therapist will need to see and maneuver their hips, lower back, and upper thighs. For leg pain, they will need to see the affected area.

It is a good idea for people to wear stretchy, loose-fitting shorts for hip and leg injuries. If possible, they may want to avoid long trousers — especially leggings, which are difficult to roll up.

The following options are clothing items to consider and avoid for lower body physical therapy.

athletic shortsjeans
stretchy, loose shortsskirts
athletic skortsdresses
stretchy yoga pantsslacks or trousers

Feet and ankles

If a person has a foot or ankle injury, socks and athletic shoes are a good option. The physical therapist may ask them to perform some physical activity, so supportive sneakers are a good option.

It is generally advisable to wear socks and athletic shoes to physical therapy appointments. The following table includes shoe types to consider wearing and avoiding.

sneakersdress shoes
clean sockshigh heels

People can aim to wear stretchy, breathable athletic clothing and avoid stiff, restrictive fabrics. They should also avoid very tight clothing, such as leggings. These are difficult to roll up and make it challenging for the therapist to see the affected area.

Additionally, people should avoid dress shoes and heels. Always wear sneakers where possible, especially for lower body injuries.

When deciding what to wear to physical therapy, a person may want to think about their specific injury. They can arrive prepared to expose the injured area by wearing clothes that make it easily accessible.

If a person is attending therapy from school or work, they will likely need to change into appropriate clothing. They can ask the therapist if there is a room they can change in before their session begins.

It is also important to note that a person should never feel uncomfortable or exposed during therapy — part of the physical therapist’s job is to make sure they feel safe and comfortable. If they do need to remove or roll down clothing, they can cover sensitive areas with paper and gowns.

In outpatient physical therapy sessions, loose-fitting, stretchy activewear and athletic shoes are suitable clothing choices. The therapist will need to see the injured area, so it is important to wear clothing that can be moved or rolled up to expose it.

Recommendations can vary, so it is advisable to check with the person’s therapist before their first session. They can answer any questions and clarify what a person should wear.

Learn about the benefits of physical therapy.