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6 Books Every PT Should Read

Check out the best physical therapy books that'll help you grow in the clinic and in the business world. See our top six books to read, here!

Melissa Hughes
5 min read
January 18, 2019
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Everyone needs some personal time to thrive in life—whether that time is dedicated to adventuring in the great outdoors, meditating and decompressing mentally, or hunkering down and reading a good book. But sometimes it can feel difficult to justify taking a break—especially when life is flying by at breakneck speeds.

So, I’m giving you a reason to take some time out—and take a load off your feet—by providing a list of the best physical therapy books that can help you grow both in the clinic and in the business world. This list is packed with some truly great reads—with several titles plucked directly from the brains of WebPT’s best in-house therapists.

If you’re someone who puts a lot of stock in ratings—I obsessively check them while combing the shelves of Barnes & Noble—don’t you worry! Each description below includes a rating on a five-star scale that reflects the average of all the (sometimes thousands) of reviews left on both Amazon and Goodreads. Get ready to spend some quality time with your most comfortable recliner and enjoy some guilt-free kick-back time. Happy reading!

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

Average Rating: 4.19 Stars (5,144 Ratings)

This book recommendation is for the leaders and owners in a PT practice or rehab organization. Dare to Lead is chock full of insight about workplace culture. It dives into the importance of holding your values near and dear as well as the need for embracing some often-overlooked—or downright spurned—traits, like vulnerability, trust, and resilience.

Dare to Lead by Brenè Brown

So, if your position seats you at the helm of ship, give this book a read to patch the holes in your approach to leadership. This title also made its debut on the New York Times bestseller list in November 2018—so you know it’s definitely worth the read.

Available for purchase here.

2. Explain Pain by David S. Butler and G. Lorimer Moseley

Average Rating: 4.21 Stars (454 Ratings)

Explain Pain book cover

This title is a must-read for any physical therapist who treats chronic pain patients. It will help contextualize your patients’ pain, as well as provide a deep, evidence-based understanding of how pain functions in the human body—from its genesis, to its stubborn persistence even after tissue has healed.

Referencing knowledge gained from advances in the fields of neurophysiology, brain imaging, immunology, psychology, and cellular biology, Explain Pain provides well-rounded information written simply enough to be digested by well-educated providers and inexperienced patients alike. So, if you’re balking at the price, know that you can pop it into your patient library once you finish reading! One caveat: If you plan to purchase this book, avoid the Kindle eBook version. The text isn’t formatted correctly and is difficult to read.

Available for purchase here.

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

Average Rating: 4.46 Stars (262 Ratings)

muscles: testing and function book cover

This hefty book may be an oldie, but it’s a goodie. And this goodie serves as a comprehensive guide to muscles and manual muscle testing as well as a guide to postural conditions, postural assessments, and their subsequent treatments.

The most recent edition also includes a new chart of upper extremity articulations, information about post-polio syndrome, and more case studies that compare Guillain-Barré to polio muscle tests. This book is absolutely packed to the brim with information, and you’ll find yourself referencing its contents often.

Available for purchase here.

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

Average Rating: 4.24 Stars (2,176 Ratings)

Playing big book cover

For women who are interested in learning how to successfully assert their way into a leadership role—or even how to simply be bold in their work environment—Playing Big is the perfect page-turner. This book teaches women to be confident in their actions and to untangle themselves from the trappings of self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy.

So, pick up this book and learn to ditch counterproductive niceties, clarify your mission, and take the reins in your professional—and even personal—life.

Available for purchase here.

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

Average Rating: 4.05 Stars (48 Ratings)

guide to evidence-based physical therapy practice book cover

This book, we’re proud to say, was authored by WebPT’s very own Dianne Jewell. It provides the step-by-step, reader-friendly instructions you need to successfully conduct medical research in your practice—all so you can provide your patients with top-of-the-line evidence-based care.

This extremely helpful guide also includes several clinical scenarios and research examples that you can use to test your medical research mettle before you venture out to implement it in your own work.

Available for purchase here.

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

Average Rating: 4.14 Stars (778 Ratings)

Run, don't walk book cover

When soldiers come back from war with shattered bones and missing limbs, they need a PT to help ease them back into their old swing of life. At Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Adele Levine was that PT. In this collection of memoirs, Levine recounts the many experiences that defined her life when she worked in one of the world’s leading amputee rehabilitation facilities.

Emotionally poignant and inspiring, Run, Don’t Walk provides an honest look into the life of a PT and her patients—and by the end, you’ll understand the importance of appreciating the little joys during tough situations.

Available for purchase here.

And there you have it! I wish you luck in the book store, and I hope you enjoy at least one of the titles on this list. Feel free to comment below with the titles of the PT- or business-related books that you enjoyed most!


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