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Gift Ideas from a Physical Therapist's Perspective

By Beth Jennings, PT

Need some gift ideas for the holidays, an upcoming birthday, or a get-well basket? Think like a physical therapist and give gifts that relieve pain, maximize independence, prevent an injury, or even support a fitness goal. 

Now I'm not talking about sending a case of ibuprofen to cousin George with the bad knee because you're tired of hearing him complain. And I don't think Grandma would want to wake to a bedside commode under the tree, but a thoughtful gift that shows you care can be a welcomed treat.



These are great for just about everyone - athletes, office workers, laborers, parents of little ones, or those of us with no good reason for our aches and pains. With a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and styles, you are sure to find one they'll like.


  • Theracane, one particular brand of a curved, cane-like tool with rounded tips that you can use to massage sore muscles.
  • Tennis balls, a cheap and easy massage tool. Use by placing one ball between a sore muscle and a firm surface such as the wall (if standing) or the bed or floor (if lying down). 
  • Vibrating massage tools, either electric or battery-powered, and may also have a warming feature.



  • Electric heating pads with an automatic shut-off after 30 minutes.
  • Grain or herb-filled packs, homemade or purchased and are meant to be heated in the microwave.
  • Gel-filled packs are my preferred type of cold pack and come in a variety of sizes.


Shopping for a morning dog-walker, runner, or bike-commuter? Lights or reflective gear can keep them visible to vehicles to avoid accidents.

  • Lights, battery-powered or rechargeable, could include a flashlight, headlamp, or lights clipped to equipment or body.
  • Reflective gear such as a vest, wrist bands, or belts. Some even combine lights with reflective surfaces to maximize visibility in the dark.



Picking a gift for someone who is sidelined from a surgery or illness, or is not as independent as they used to be, can be challenging as well. The market is full of tools and devices to make life more comfortable in these situations.


  • Adaptive devices such as long-handled shoehorns, reachers, and sponges to make dressing and bathing easier.
  • Tech gifts like Bluetooth speakers, extra long charging cables, noise-canceling headphones, gaming systems, and tablets. 
  • Subscriptions to audiobooks, newspapers, internet streaming services such as Audible, Spotify, Netflix, The New York Times, or Sirius XM Radio.
  • Meal delivery services (or a promise to deliver home-cooked meals yourself).


Last month I wrote 20 Ways To Be More Active During A Pandemic, with several equipment suggestions. Consider the person's current activities and goals with these:

  • Yoga accessories such as mats, blocks, and straps.
  • Walking or trekking poles for neighborhood walks, trail hiking, or snowshoeing.
  • Shoes or a gift card to their favorite shoe store.


Order online or shop sporting good stores, pharmacies, medical supply stores, or where bath/spa supplies are sold. 


Don’t forget FYZICAL Therapy and Balance Centers - Forest Grove where we have many of these items available in our lobby.


What kind of physical therapy related gifts have you given in the past? We'd love to hear about it. 


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Beth Jennings is a freelance writer and a physical therapist.