The Difference Between Physiotherapy and Sports Therapy

So, you’re an athlete who got badly injured. Now what’s your next step?

Differences between physiotherapy and sports therapy

After promptly applying the R.I.C.E protocol, this is the question you should be asking. Does your particular injury necessitate physiotherapy, or sports therapy for a proper recovery?

Simply put, while both physiotherapy and sports therapy are similar in that they both aim to treat musculoskeletal disorders, the differences lie in their overall approach and primary goal.

Let’s get into what sets them apart below, beginning with physiotherapy:


Physiotherapists or physical therapists help those affected by injuries through exercise/movement, education and guidance. The average physiotherapist that has completed their undergraduate studies are capable of helping their patients improve a range of injuries and conditions associated with different body systems - including neuromusculoskeletal, neurological, cardiovascular and respiratory conditions.

Compared to sports therapists, physiotherapists have the knowledge and capability of treating a broader spectrum of medical issues and complex conditions. It is important to note however that many physiotherapists do specialize in sports rehabiliation

Sports Therapy

Sports therapists are considered experts or specialists of musculoskeletal disorders, helping patients to ultimately treat their injuries and relieve pain through restoring and improving movement. They must take part in a three-year intensive course with a particular focus on the musculoskeletal system in order to earn their title and begin practicing.

Generally speaking, sports therapists have frequent access to sporting environments to give them the experience necessary for helping injured athletes through sport-specific training programs. With the musculoskeletal system being a sports therapist’s general area of focus and expertise, sports therapy is an ideal approach to recovery for injured athletes wanting to return to the game quickly and in top shape.

Physiotherapy vs. Sports Therapy - The Key Takeaway:

Perhaps the most fundamental difference between physiotherapy and sports therapy is that physiotherapy aims to rehabilitate patients to where they feel comfortable enough to return to daily life, with sports therapy aiming to ensure that patients have recovered enough to safely return to their particular sport and its physical functions.

All in all, whether working with a physiotherapist, a sports therapist, or somewhere in between - it is always recommended for injured athletes to choose their practitioners wisely by ensuring that they possess the necessary education, training and experience to get you back in the game, comfortably and confidently.

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