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PHYSIOTHERAPY AND SPORTS THERAPY

What's The Difference?

Sports Therapy is a relatively new profession, it's less than 30 years old. The profession came about to bridge the gap between the end of Physiotherapy treatment and returning to Sport. Originally, there wasn't anyone who was able to fully rehabilitate injuries to a high enough level for the patient to return to significant levels of activity, and so Sports Therapy was born.


During our education, Sports Therapists focus on Musculo-skeletal injuries, including injuries to muscles, joints, ligaments and bones. We specialise in this area from the very start of our degree learning in depth anatomy, musculo-skeletal testing, advanced rehabilitation, hands-on physical therapy including deep tissue massage, several different treatment modalities, and first aid incorporating sports trauma management. Sports Therapists are trained to be able to treat patients from the moment of injury and rehabilitate to a level where they can return to sport without the risk of reinjury. We are also trained to identify any possible risks of injury and administer advice and corrective exercises to minimise that risk. During our training we are required to undertake both a clinical placement as well as a placement with a sports team. 

Physiotherapists are slightly different. During a Physiotherapy degree, they learn to rehabilitate a wide array of conditions which generally can be split into five main areas; Respiratory, Neurological, Cardiac, Palliative, and Musculoskeletal. They also work with paediatric patients and in A+E. Physiotherapists generally work in a clinical setting within the NHS, although some do go on to work in private practice. Physiotherapists are much less hands on than sports therapists and they are not taught deep tissue massage, although many choose to take on additional training in this area. Due to the nature of the NHS, appointments are usually only up to 15 minutes, however this can differ. Due to the wide scope of their education, Physiotherapists do not specialise until after they have completed their degree. Those who wish to work in sports have to complete further training before they can work with teams. You can expect to find both Physiotherapists and Sports Therapists working in elite sport today.

Unfortunately, due to the strain on the NHS today, it can take months before you can get an appointment with a Physiotherapist through the NHS. However, you can usually get an appointment to see a Sports Therapist relatively quickly so you can begin your rehabilitation before your Physiotherapy appointment date has even been set.