Physiotherapist, Sports Physiotherapist, Sports Therapist or Sports Massage Therapist – all similar disciplines but what’s the difference? Who is going to be best placed to help you with your injury or ailment? Does it even matter? Here we explain the difference between the grey areas so you can make an informed choice when choosing who can help you reduce your pain and start living and playing pain free again.
As Sports Therapists we are often referred to by the public as one, or all, of the titles above. Technically speaking we are a different discipline again. We like to think we take the best parts of all of the above and spin into our own special progressive treatment style. But before we talk more about what we do let’s put the disciplines into context.
Physiotherapy is a really big subject. I mean really big. It is normally what you, the public, associate with your needs when you have an injury. Technically it is defined as:
“The treatment of disease, injury, or deformity by physical methods such as massage, heat treatment, and exercise rather than by drugs or surgery.”
Which is a pretty loose definition. Physiotherapy is the discipline that has been around the longest and this is why you might associate injury treatment with Physio. However, there are large subsections within the subject of Physiotherapy, namely:
- Musculo-Skeletal – when muscles and bones hurt
- Neurology – rehabilitation from serious stuff – heart attacks, strokes
- Respiratory – help with lung related issues
- Orthopaedics – pre or post operative care when you’ve been cut open by a surgeon
Most Physiotherapists at University are taught an exercise based approach to treatment. This is widely used in the NHS hence the legendary “here’s a sheet of exercises for you to do to help fix yourself.”
That said there are many excellent Physiotherapists who are hands on with their treatment and use their rehab exercises to compliment a more hands on approach. An approach as a Sports Therapist I like to use myself.
Physiotherapists are governed by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.
A Sports Physiotherapist or Sports Physio is someone who is qualified as a Physiotherapist but specialises in Sports conditions. Hence the confusion with Sports Therapists! They may or may not have additional Sports related qualifications.
They are also governed by the CSP and are Physios who have chosen to specialise in the musculo-skeletal side of things. Specifically sports related injuries or conditions. Which is exactly what we as Sports Therapists specialise in.
My discipline Sports Therapy concentrates on the musculo-skeletal side of things from the outset. Our entire qualification focuses on trying to help you with the bit that hurts. We are much newer to the arena than Physiotherapy.
As an occupation we were created in 1990 by Physiotherapist Graham Smith. Having set up the centre of excellence at Lilleshall Graham felt that Physiotherapy was moving too much towards exercise based rehabilitation and too far away from a hands on approach. He founded Sports Therapy to redress this balance.
We use massage as a Sports Massage Therapist would, we use joint mobilisation as a Physiotherapist would, we use exercise prescription related to your Sport as a Sports Physiotherapist would. Can you see where to confusion comes from now?!
What I love about Sports Therapy is that we are not bound by specific guidelines and we can just use the best methods for each individual. We are able to mix and match our experience and techniques to suit the need of the individual to get them the best possible result.
In fact we frequently use many techniques from Kinesiology. Which in my less informed youth I would have dismissed out of hand as a load of tree hugging hippy rubbish! Thankfully for everyone I have mellowed and now encourage what I term egoless treatment. I don’t really care where the technique comes from so long as it helps the patient. When you put aspects of all disciplines in your treatment we find you’re in the best position to help people.
We are part of a Professional Membership Association called the Society Of Sports Therapists.
Sports Massage Therapy
A Sports Massage Therapist is someone who is different again. This is someone who is trained solely in Sports Massage skills. They are not qualified to diagnose conditions in the same way as a Sports Therapist or Physiotherapist would be.
However, because Sports Therapists and an increasing number of Physiotherapists use massage they can be confused as Physios or Sports Therapists and of course vice-versa. Further adding to sea of confusion between the disciplines.
Sports Massage Therapists have Professional Membership Associations. One of which is Sports Massage Association.
As you can see the borders between the disciplines can only be described as grey. With each discipline overlapping the other one. I believe this can only be a good thing. If we just concentrate on what we’re doing with our patients and clients and work together and be open to as many ways of helping people as possible this can only be a good thing for the industry as a whole. As Sports Therapists we’re just trying to reach as many people as we can with our Progressive approach trying to use the best of all approaches out there to help you with your condition.
For us it doesn’t so much matter whether you see a Physiotherapist, Sports Physiotherapist, Sports Massage Therapist or Sports Therapist but that you find someone that you can trust and like and has the knowledge and experience to help you get over your condition.
Personal recommendation is a great way of finding someone. We get most of our clients this way. This is also why we highlight all of our lovely testimonials on our website in written and video form. If you haven’t had a recommendation then have a good read of their website and see if you agree with their ethos. As a clinic owner we’re just trying to reach the people we can help the most. If you don’t have any personal recommendation then Google reviews are a good indication as to the quality of the treatment you might receive.
That’s why we at Brighton Sports Therapy simply concentrate on doing the best job we can. Drawing influences from all of the above disciplines to give you the best treatment possible. If you’d like to understand more about how our Progressive treatments can help you then press the Get In Touch button below
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This article first appeared on our Swindon Sports Therapy site.