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What Should I Wear To My Physiotherapy Appointment?

We’ve all had this feeling at one point in time, the anxiety of deciding what we should wear to a certain event, date, and yes, even a physiotherapy appointment! Deciding what to wear to physio can seem confusing, especially if it’s your first appointment. That’s why our team of registered physiotherapists are here to help guide you on what to wear to your next physiotherapy session to make sure you’re prepared and comfortable.

What to expect at your first physiotherapy appointment?

Your first physiotherapy appointment usually starts with an in depth conversation as your physiotherapist will want to get to know you and your pain points a little better before diving into the assessment and a specific treatment. At Summit Physiotherapy & Massage Therapy, we use this session to review your medical history, causes of your pain or injury, and any other relevant information. Make sure to take advantage of this time with your physiotherapist and ask any questions you have as well!

Next, we complete a full physical assessment of your injury or pain areas to find a diagnosis and determine your mobility, strength, and any limitations you’re experiencing to develop a custom treatment plan.

What is the best type of clothing to wear to my physiotherapy appointment?

The best type of clothing to wear to your physiotherapy appointment is comfortable, loose clothing that doesn’t restrict movement and allows access to your specific injury or pain problem. Your clothing shouldn’t limit your ability to move your shoulders, knees, hips, and spine so that your physiotherapist can get a better idea of your full range of motion.

For example, short sleeve shirts or tank tops are great for moving your upper body! Regular length shorts are also a good option, however skirts, dresses, and “short” shorts are not as good. It’s important for you to be able to easily move around while remaining comfortable. Depending on your local physiotherapy clinic, we also recommend wearing warm socks. Sometimes you’ll be asked to remove footwear and depending on the temperature inside the clinic or your own internal body temperature, this could lead to cold feet.

We also recommend wearing comfortable footwear like a trainer, running shoe, or any other type of sneaker you prefer. You may be asked to perform some mild exercises in future physiotherapy appointments so it’s important to have good support. You may also be asked to remove your shoes so the easier they are to remove the better! Some shoe brands our physiotherapists recommend include New Balance, Merrell, and Brooks.

However, not everyone is able to come to a physiotherapy session straight from the comfort of their home so we recommend planning ahead and packing a change of clothes if you’re coming from work.

We’ve included examples of what to wear to physiotherapy appointments for different types of injuries or pain to help you plan ahead:

What to wear to a physiotherapy appointment for your shoulder?

If you’re booking a physiotherapy appointment because of a shoulder injury or pain, we recommend wearing a tank top with a loose sweater if it’s cold, this way you can remove the sweater if your physiotherapist needs to take a closer look and you can still have a full range of motion.

Any tank top will do whether it be a sports tank from MEC or something simple from Winners, anything goes!

What to wear to a physiotherapy appointment for your upper or lower back and hip?

If you’re booking a physiotherapy appointment because of back or hip pain or a lower or upper back injury, we recommend wearing a loose fitting shirt and comfortable but loose pants that can be easily lowered to show the lowest part of your back. Your physiotherapist may have to lift the lower portion of your shirt to view and feel how the spine and muscles in your lower back are performing.

Woman standing facing away from the frame wearing an open back t-shirt.
Image credit: Sporting Life Women’s Short Sleeve Feather Cross Back Top

If you have upper back pain, we recommend a tank top or t-shirt with an open back for women (see image above). Often men feel comfortable removing their shirts if needed. Our clinic also carries gowns if you forget your clothing or if you don’t have the recommended clothes.

What to wear to a physiotherapy appointment for your knee, ankle, or foot?

If you’re booking a physiotherapy appointment for a knee, ankle, or foot injury, we recommend a pair of mid-length shorts or loose cropped pants that can be rolled up to expose your knee, while still giving you a good range of motion. That means no tight pants that limit your ability to bend your knee and hip while they’re rolled up.

Atmosphere has a wide range of shorts for men and women that are a nice length, not too short, while still exposing enough of the knee.

What to wear to a pelvic floor physiotherapy appointment?

If you’re booking a pelvic physiotherapy session we recommend loose fitting pants. During pelvic physiotherapy sessions you may be asked to perform different exercises so it’s best to wear clothing that you’ll be comfortable in.

Woman wearing navy leggings.
Image credit: BÄRE ACTIVEWEAR Barely There Pant 2.0

For some that is leggings (see image above), for others it’s loose sweatpants (see image below). Go with what you’re most comfortable with!

Woman standing, wearing a black joggers with white sneakers.
Image credit: BÄRE ACTIVEWEAR Downtown Jogger

BÄRE ACTIVEWEAR is a Calgary-owned activewear company that has leggings and sweatpants that are soft, durable, incredibly stretchy, and most importantly, comfortable!

What else should you bring to your physiotherapy appointment?

To get the most out of your physiotherapy sessions we recommend bringing along:

  1. Light layers (depending on the season or your local physiotherapy clinic’s temperature)
  2. A notebook and something to write with
  3. A friend or family member can be helpful to have a second pair of ears and eyes in the room
  4. Shoes that you wear regularly and your exercise footwear

Our clinic will provide you with a detailed treatment plan and notes for at-home exercises, however, it can be helpful to take your own notes if you prefer to do so. A few of our physiotherapists are avid note takers and prefer instructions to be in their own words.

Ready to book your first physiotherapy appointment?

Contact us today to book your appointment. We look forward to helping you feel better — fast!