what is the difference between sports therapy and physiotherapy

Musculoskeletal injuries can affect the quality of life-limiting essential functions. Yet, they remain to be a common occurrence. The desire for quick recuperation from such injuries has driven us to explore different treatment options. Such efforts get propelled with the hopes of getting flash restoration. There are various forms of therapy which can be useful in the management of injuries and pains. Sports therapy and physiotherapy are some of the treatment methods that help heal injuries.

What comes to your mind first when you get injured? Often depending on the level of exposure, you will want to seek medical attention from a practitioner that will give you quick relief. You will spend a fortune to go for the best services that will increase your quick recovery chances. One frequently asked questions at the casualty department is whether a sports therapy is better than a physio.

The dilemma even extends to prospective students. One may be torn on whether to study sports therapy or physiotherapy. Well, the two distinct professions significantly overlap. The treatment outcomes and techniques exhibit many similarities. However, we can explain a few differences that may inform your decision on whom to visit. Physiotherapy or sports therapy, do you think one is better than the other? We outline similarities and differences to lead us to a conclusion.


Physiotherapy is one of the healthcare profession recognized by the Health and Care Professions Council and practiced the world over. As a medical discipline, Healthmax North York Physiotherapy helps people affected by injuries and diseases recover. Quick recovery is made possible through clear manual therapy, exercise, and advice. Furthermore, it helps people of all ages to manage pain and prevent disease. It is one field that has a great potential in transforming lives that have not been fully exploited. Skillful education is required for one to practice physiotherapy. During training, one learns how to manage conditions such as respiratory disease and neuro-musculoskeletal conditions.

Sports therapy

From the name, many people will think that Sports therapy deal with athletes, but this is not always true. Sports therapy is one of the healthcare aspects that deal explicitly with the prevention of injuries and rehabilitation back to normal functions. It seeks to either restore or optimize functionality, performance and sports prowess regardless of age. Sport and exercise science gets incorporated with physiology in sports therapy to improve health status by enhancing quick healing. With much knowledge on musculoskeletal disorders, sports therapist use hands-on treatment and rehabilitation to increase mobility, relieve pain and improve quality of life.

Similarities between physiotherapy and sports therapy

Although there is a difference in the scope of each discipline, the similarities are many, and confusion is more likely. Both physiotherapy and sports therapy work on the musculoskeletal system to improve well-being in people. They have the necessary training to manage musculoskeletal disorders and ease associated pains. Both therapists can assess injuries to identify anomalies in making a diagnosis. On many occasions, you will get a similar diagnosis of a condition regardless of the practitioner that you visit. Also, there is considerable patient involvement in the management process as exhibited by the level of patient education registered in both. Patients get taught on how to keep fit using the proper techniques and to reduce injuries in the future as a preventive measure.

The two types of therapy aim to stimulate quick recovery and encourage self-care in patients. Training the muscles to adjust to various conditions and cope even in hostility. There is much similarity in the way the two therapies work and their treatment techniques. Massage, manual therapy, electrotherapy, and exercise prescription are some of the approaches prevalent in both physio and sports therapy.

Distinguishing physiotherapy from sports therapy


  • Education levels and training

Formal education training is a significant aspect of difference in differentiating sports therapy from physiotherapy. Sports therapy is concerned with assessment and rehabilitation of orthopedic injuries sometimes acquired from sports activities. Sports therapy usually focus on muscle bones and joints of the body. In their training, sports therapist learn on injury prevention techniques, supportive care, and emergency care.

On the other hand, physiotherapy is a little broader and in the formal education, students learn cardiorespiratory rehabilitation atop the basics. Postgraduate studies in physiotherapy have been shown to widen the scope of practice further. The difference in the content of the study is again seen in the duration of the study. A physiotherapy degree course will take at least 4 years with an option to enroll for masters while sports therapy is well covered in 3 years.

  • Work setup

Another difference comes in the time of practice. Physiotherapist often practices in hospital facilities whereas sports therapists are in private practice. You will find physiotherapy services in most hospitals. The work environment has helped physiotherapist to gain much knowledge about diseases. Physiotherapy is thus more suited to the ill people since the practitioner has a level of understanding in handling them.

On the other hand, sports therapy is generally good for the healthy to improve performance and prevent illness. Sometimes you will find a therapist attached to a sporting club. Considering this, one cannot be a substitute for the other in some situations.

Physiotherapy services are sometimes recommended by the general physician. As such, you can get insurance coverage. The availability of such services in the public or private sector is dependent on locality. On the contrary, sports therapy is often a personal initiative driven by one’s health-seeking behavior. Registering for such services may get you to dig deep into your pockets. However, it is worth an investment, and you won’t regret ever.

  • Regulations

Physiotherapy is regulated, and one gets registered to practice in most countries. On the flip side, sports therapy exhibit minimal regulations, and it’s a free market dictated by demand and trust. We all appreciate the need for some level of control. At present, efforts are in place to set up several regulatory bodies. You can get recommendations from friends on how to find a legitimate sports therapist. Also, scrutinize level of professionalism as seen in services offered.