If I had a pound for every time that someone asked me the difference between a Physiotherapist, a Sports Therapist and a Sports Massage Therapist I’d be a rich man! I know the answer but then I’ve been working in the industry for a very long time. Trouble is you, the average person who needs to know, doesn’t understand the difference. I can’t blame you either.
Here we have an honest and lighthearted look into what you need to know to help you best make the decision when choosing who to spend your hard earned cash to help get you fixed.
Of course there are other professions such as Chiropractors and Osteopaths but they normally like to fight amongst themselves so we’ll leave them to it! N.B. for the record Chiropractors fix you by cracking your back, Osteopaths rub you first and then crack you’re back! (apologies to anyone in those professions for the gross over simplification!)
Physiotherapy vs. Sports Massage vs. Sports Therapy
So as a rule of thumb (and there’s going to be a lot of those over this blog) if you consider a Physiotherapist to be more medical than Sports Masseurs and Sports Therapists then that’s a good start.
Physiotherapy in itself is a huge subject and roughly speaking splits into 4 different areas which have been simplified here:
- Musculo-Skeletal – when bits hurt
- Neurology – when nerves stop working
- Respiratory – when you can’t breath
- Orthopaedics – when you’ve just had an operation
So where does Sports Therapy fit into this? The best fit is into the Musculo-Skeletal section. As Sports Therapists we specialise in this area. However, so too can Physiotherapists. That’s why we have one working here! Equally Sports Therapists are well equipped to deal with many kinds of neurological conditions.
What about Sports Massage? Sports Massage is really just one of many techniques to help you recover from your condition. Just like spinal mobilisation, joint mobilisation, muscle activation and exercise based rehabilitation. I’d say they’re the biggies in terms of effective ways of getting you fixed!
What’s The Difference In Qualifications?
Well Physiotherapy is degree level entry usually followed by at least a 2 year stint in the NHS working out where you want to specialise. Sports Therapy is not technically degree level entry but in most cases now is. For example yours truly is the holder of merely a diploma in Advance Clinical Sports Therapy, but then there’s no substitute for experience!
When Sports Therapy becomes state regulated and so degree level entry I will be able to join the party by what’s called a grand parenting scheme. This is exactly the process that physiotherapy went through many years ago. It’s so the people who’ve been working in the field for a long time and have a lot of knowledge don’t get left behind. It would be a bit harsh having no job all of a sudden!
Sports Massage on the other hand is usually Diploma level. So point of entry knowledge may not be to the same level as Physiotherapists and Sports Therapists. However, that’s not to say there aren’t some fantastic Sports Massage Therapists out there. And I know quite a few. I’m a strong believer it’s not what your qualification is, it’s what you do with it. As with most occupations your qualification is just the beginning of your learning.
The Sports Therapy degree focuses all 3 years on specialising in what is effectively musculo-skeletal physiotherapy. So we do like to rib our physiotherapy friends that we’re the real experts! But more important than qualifications I think is what you then go on to do with it. The qualification is just the start. There is so much more information out there that can help so many people. That’s part of the fun of the job. Finding new and different way to help people recover.
What’s Does State Regulation Mean?
This enables Physiotherapists to use the term Chartered. Whereas Sports Therapists can’t. It simply means that the government has deemed fit to protect the name of the occupation in the interests of the general public. So if you’re going to see someone calling themselves a Physiotherapist then you know they will been trained to a suitable level.
Sports Therapy is on the list of occupations to be regulated but as yet this has not been the case. This is simply because Sports Therapy is a newer discipline having been created as a sub-section of Physiotherapy back in 1990. Conversations with our regulating body The Society Of Sports Therapists and the government continue. The body that decide such things the Health and Care Professions Council have stated that Sports Therapy need to be regulated many times. But these things take time.
There’s more information on Sports Therapy and the state regulation on the Society of Sports Therapists website.
Who Does What?
As you’re probably understanding now the difference between the disciplines is not black and white but various shades of grey. Another rule of thumb is that Sports Therapists are more hands on – trying to change the way you work whilst Physiotherapists (especially in the NHS) are more hands off and give you exercises to do to fix yourself. But equally you can get very hands on physios.
So if you prefer hands on treatment maybe a Sports Therapist or private Physiotherapist would better suit you. But of course the NHS is free, so you might want to try that – though waiting list for an appointment then becomes an issue!
What Are The Hands On Physio Techniques?
Spinal mobilisation, joint mobilisation, Muscle Activation and Sports Massage each of which can be performed by a Sports Therapist, Physiotherapist or Sports Massage Therapist. So yet more overlap in techniques. Generally speaking there are many ways to skin a cat. Not that we refer to our clients as cats, or mention skinning them – I feel we need to make that perfectly clear!
At our clinic we’ve completely embraced the grey lines between the disciplines and aren’t too fussy about terminology and where the techniques come from. All we’re interested in is making the treatment as effective as possible for the individual.
What Difference Does That Make To Me?
Not much, unless you’ve got private medical cover. Most insurance companies will usually only pay out for Physiotherapy treatment. Though there are an increasing number of exceptions. That’s why as a business it’s useful for us and for you to have a physiotherapist working here. So we can help those looking to cover the cost of their treatment using their private medical cover.
In real terms I always think that physios who can rely on insurance claims have it easy! You have the money coming in and you can cruise along. Whereas us Sports Therapists have to rely on simply being as good at our job as possible to engender a good rapport with clients and as good a reputation locally as possible. to be a little more balanced I would say that these physios cruising along on insurance claims are few and far between. But they do exist. If you ask around locally on reputation you’ll soon find out who they are. Which brings us to the crux…
Should I See Physiotherapist Or Sports Massage Therapist?
The truth of the matter is it’s all down to personal preference. If we have good rapport with our clients it is more than likely we will be able to help our clients. If we don’t we won’t. That’s why all of our therapists here are friendly, laid back and passionate about helping people get on with their lives.
But how do you pick a therapist that is going to work for you? I would like to go on personal recommendation to start with. That’s how we get a lot of our clients. If your friends don’t have a recommendation then do some research. Most good therapists will have a good website that gets across the ethos of how they like to work. If you like what you read and get a good feel chances are it’s a good match for you.
Equally things like testimonials and Google Reviews are a useful resource when selecting a therapist. We’re particularly proud of ours and that’s why we promote them. It says to someone who doesn’t know us that we know what we’re talking about.
Finally, pick up the phone. Have a conversation with your therapist in advance of booking an appointment with them to see how they can help you with your condition. You will already to get to know the therapist and get a good indication as to whether you are going to get on and whether they know their stuff.
This is why we have introduced our Book Now page. This is where we encourage you to speak to a therapist before you book in with us so we can get to know you and find out if we’re going to be a good fit for each other. If you end up going else where or live away from Brighton I strongly advise you to do this with whoever you choose.
Then go along and meet the therapist for your appointment and see if you like them and trust them. In the trade we always say that it is our clients assessing us, not the other way round!
What If It Doesn’t Work?
In the first instance speak to your therapist and let them know that the treatment is not working for you. Before you do though be honest and ask yourself “Have I done everything that I have been asked to do?” We call it compliance. It’s well researched that people who do what they’re asked have better outcomes than those who don’t. It may be the odd stretch or exercise here and there or a slight change in posture. Maybe even a tweak in your lifestyle.
If you can honestly say you’re doing all you can then tell your therapist. They may well have a few different ideas or approaches that may work out better for you. If they run out of ideas still do not despair. There are so many therapists out there all with a whole manner of different approaches and specialism. Start the process again. Speak to the next therapist and explain what treatment you’ve had and if they have any different ideas that can help you.
We find we get the best results with Muscle Activation treatments. But find them even more effective when we combine them with Sports Massage and more conventional physiotherapy techniques such as joint mobilisation and rehabilitation exercises. If that sounds interesting to you give us a call on 01273 921831 and we can discuss how we can make you feel better. If that doesn’t sound like the right approach for you, continue searching, there will be someone out there who can help you.
What Should I Do About My Condition?
I’m hoping the all for the above will have eased you mind and helped you go about choosing the right therapist for you. Hopefully you end up choosing us. I am aware that it can be a very confusing business to those on the outside. The best thing you can do to help your condition is to do something about it, preferably now. If you don’t do something different chances are you’ll stay exactly as you have been.
If you don’t believe you can be fixed then you won’t be. If you believe you can be fixed then you will. You just need to be shown the best way for you to move in the right direction. Whoever that may be and whatever that their qualifications are doesn’t really matter so long as you work together to get you fixed.
If you are struggling with any condition and you’re not sure if you can be helped give us a call and we’ll talk to you about how we can help. Don’t worry we’ll soon tell you if you’re a lost cause. 99% of people aren’t. They just need their belief back that something can be done to ease their pain. Give us a call now and we’ll tell you how .
There’s more information on our home page about Physiotherapy, Sports Massage and Sports Therapy and how they can help you.
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