10 Books Every PT Must Read

Books are clearly our first tool regardless of the field we work in, and physical therapy makes no exception. Research shows that the costs of Physical Therapy keep going up, but keeping yourself knowledgeable doesn’t always mean you should go back to university.

We have compiled a list of books every PT must read in order to be knowledgeable to tackle patients' issues and organize his team on a daily basis. 

You must know these are simply short summaries of what industry leaders suggest, and you can research yourself further information on each book before purchase.

1. Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

As the name itself suggests, this book focuses on the brain and its inability to perceive what happens o the left side of the body. This is a disorder, the neuroscientist, Lisa Genova has explained the case of Sara Nickerson, an executive hard-working mom who experiences this brain disorder after a car crash. 

After going through surgery and waking up eight days later to find out the left part of her body is uncontrollable, she has to learn how to cope with it. Lisa portrays the whole experience of Sara in simple terms, through the lenses of an expert, which makes it invaluable for every physical therapist. 

Each paragraph depicting the difficult life of Sarah makes you feel more empathy towards your own patients after reading this book. Surely, the phases through which she goes in her healing journey teach you valuable insights.

2. Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. by Brené Brown

This book made it to the New York Best Sellers list in 2018 and it wasn’t for no reason. The wealth of knowledge packed inside it holds the key to successfully run a PT clinic. 

Written by the four-time #1 New York bestseller author Brené Brown, who has spent more than two decades studying successful leaders in multiple industries, this book elaborates on the most crucial trait a physical therapist must have: leadership.  

Most of the time, a PT business doesn’t run well because your staff is not organized, selected carefully, or motivated to achieve their daily goals. This book ensures you are a therapist who leads your staff daily by creating a workplace culture that keeps everyone in their spirits.

3. Movement: Functional Movement Systems: Screening, Assessment, Corrective Strategies by Gray Cook

Gray’s turn in his life and career led by the fact he wasn’t able to continue his dream of becoming a football player, brings us this book written with professionalism. In it, he elaborates on the basic logical rules on which infants rely to develop walking, and from there start climbing and jumping. 

He believes there is a way for both fitness and rehabilitation professionals to work together and restore their patients’ abilities by looking at walking, not as a mechanic skill, but as a behavior. 

You’ll read about the creation of pain patterns by the body, muscles’ development, compensatory strain, and what exercises you should be suggesting to patients to help lower the probability of being injured.

Source: Stocksnap

4. Muscles: Testing and Function with Posture and Pain by Florence P. Kendall

This is one of the must-read classics every PT clinic owner must have on their shelf. Kendall provides a manual on muscle testing, treatment of painful postural conditions, a detailed walkthrough of the evaluation processes, and lists of exercises suggested for different situations.

In the fifth updated version, you’ll find a few added sections with case studies on Guillain-Barré and polio muscles tests, a section on the polio syndrome, and a colorful chart explaining the upper extremity articulations. 

After the first read, it is definitely going to serve you as a reference very often, as many have stated, because it doesn’t simply equip you with insights from the medical point of view, but it also guides you from the first steps of collecting data to evaluating the outcomes. 

5. Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead by Tara Mohr

Here we have another book focused on equipping you, and especially women with the leadership skills needed to succeed not only as a clinic owner but also a healthcare worker. Since relationships are important in every environment, PT clinics don’t make an exception, and this book breaks down what steps you must take to lead properly. 

 Learning to manage stress, lack of confidence, time, and be productive reflects directly in your focus and your sessions with clients. If you’re worried about not having distributed tasks to your colleagues properly, how can you have a successful session with your patient? 

6. Guide to Evidence-Based Physical Therapist Practice by Dianne Jewell

The reason why most PTs fail to deliver on their patients is that they keep applying the same practices to the same problems over and over again, and pay little to no time to research. In this book, Dianne Jewel guides you into properly conducting medical research, and applying the new solutions that emerge from data you’ll gather. 

In each chapter, you find examples and case studies that prove the points she makes, which make this book an invaluable resource not only for therapists but students as well. Especially the 4th edition, which is rich with practical examples you can put into use right away. 

7. Run, Don’t Walk: The Curious and Chaotic Life of a Physical Therapist Inside Walter Reed Army Medical Center by Adele Levine

This could be probably the most difficult book related to physical therapy you’ll ever read. We say this because the author, Adele Levene brings experiences from his career, working as a PT at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Most of his cases include soldiers coming badly hurt with broken bones and limbs missing. 

After reading it, not only will you learn how to handle difficult situations, but also be grateful when you stress about easy cases since most of them can’t be compared to what Adele has seen during her life and career.

Throughout the book, which is a compilation of essays, she praises the important advancements made in trauma care and takes us through cases of severely hurt soldiers and the rehabilitation procedures applied to heal them. 

8. Trail Guide to the Body

As a PT, in order to heal your patients, you must first be able to precisely recognize body parts and locate damaged zones. And this book written by Andrew Biel is a comprehensible guide that helps you locate the musculoskeletal, and palpation system. 

Illustrated with memorable examples, and detailed descriptions, you’ll find inside these 504 pages, explanations of more than 162 muscles, 33 ligaments, and in the new edition pain pattern of 100 muscles.

It’s a book suggested not only for PTs but also for students, sports trainers, and massage therapists. It expands your horizon as a therapist and works best as a guide you can refer back to often. 

9. David Butler & Lorimer Moseley - Explain Pain 

Pain is the keyword of your job, but in order for you and your staff to heal it, you must be able to understand it first. This book combines research from fields such as brain imaging, cellular biology, psychology, and neurophysiology to explain the language of pain. 

The authors present pain in the light of a protection organism that serves us for the better. Helping your patients see pain differently not only helps them heal faster but also makes your job easier as well. 

With rich imagery, and clear descriptions the updated version elaborates on chronic pain, bringing even more informative and guiding examples from neuroscience, clinical trials, and failed drug therapy attempts. 

10. Therapeutic Exercise by Kisner and Colby

Classics are never to be underrated, and this is another one every therapist must have on the shelf. Almost all physical therapy instructors use it since it is packed with numerous exercises used in physical therapy. 

A great part of it is dedicated to explaining ligaments and muscles in the body, and different treatments. The updated version has added sections with even more detailed exercises, and the entire book is based on keeping the balance between theory and clinical techniques. 

All methods are backed up by research, illustration, and drawings as well as case studies that close each chapter. You find advice that applies to all genders and age groups, with the updated version adding more information on women’s health and pain management. 


Books remain a great source of information because no matter how much we might know we always need to reference somewhere to prove a point, treatment method, or even find better alternatives. 

As the industry keeps expanding and new researches are being made, the number of essential medical books and papers adds up almost daily, but there are a few books like the ones we mentioned above that speak to the basic practices a PT must follow. 

After setting yourself on the path for success as a PT with this strong foundation, it’s time to market yourself for people to find you. We have been helping clinic owners for a few years now, and we know how hard it is unless you utilize the right practices. 

We hope you enjoy reading these titles, and before deciding whether you want to work with us, please see what people say.