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Is A Sports Therapist The Same As A Physical Therapist?

People who have sustained injuries while participating in sports may confuse the services of a physical therapist and a sports therapist.

While both physical therapists and sports therapists specialize in treating sprains and strains, they are not interchangeable in the treatment of orthopedic pain and other symptoms.

While the emphasis of sports therapists is on the musculoskeletal system, physical therapists may also treat neurological and cardiovascular conditions.

Both fields place a premium on injury avoidance, thorough evaluations, effective treatment plans for both acute and chronic injuries, and a commitment to ethical conduct. An evaluation by a physical therapist or sports therapist may be obtained without a recommendation from a doctor.

What is a Physical Therapist?

A physical therapist is a medical professional who helps people regain their movement after illness, injury, or disability. A physical therapist (PT) may design a regimen of exercises to assist in recovering strength, mobility, and function.

A physical therapist may treat anybody, regardless of whether or not they participate in sports. Patients of any age may benefit from physical therapy.

Physical therapy is often recommended by sports therapists to help alleviate pain, build muscle, speed recovery, and restore normal function.

A physical therapist's approach to treatment may include a wide variety of methods, such as stretches and strength training, manual therapy, electrical stimulation, compression therapy, and temperature therapy.

Places, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, nursing homes, and rehabilitation facilities, are common places to find a physical therapist. They are able to bring physical therapy to patients' homes in many circumstances.

What is a Sports Therapist?

Doctors that specialize in treating sports injuries are called sports therapists. They use manual therapy and rehabilitation to address pain and injuries.

The primary focus of a sports therapist's three-year degree program is the musculoskeletal system, with an emphasis on restoring, maintaining, and optimizing mobility to decrease pain and improve quality of life.

Sports therapists are trained professionals that specialize in the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions. They use manual therapy and rehabilitation to address pain and injuries.

Sports therapists have to complete a rigorous three-year degree program that focuses on the musculoskeletal system and the importance of restoring, maintaining, and optimizing mobility to decrease pain and improve quality of life.

The Society of Sports Therapists (SST) is the governing organization of Sports Therapy. Rehabilitative medicine is the branch of medicine that focuses on getting patients of any age and physical condition back to their pre-injury levels of performance in their daily lives, on the job, and in sports.

For the purpose of training, competition, and, if relevant, employment, it employs the concepts of sport and exercises sciences, which include physiological and pathological processes.

Why the ‘Sport’ in Sports Therapy?

This is a highly fascinating one, and it presents us with a wide variety of marketing challenges. A Sports Therapist will naturally attract athletes. It's the same as if you went to a physical therapist for sports injuries.

It's important to note that a Physical Therapist and a Sports Therapist get the same level of education. As the name suggests, they focus on helping athletes recover from injuries.

On the other hand, a therapist would simply be termed a therapist if they wished to convey that they treat patients who do not have sports-related injuries. That covers a huge amount of ground!

It's unrealistic to expect therapists to be experts in every activity, but they should have some background knowledge and be comfortable asking questions to get more.

What sets a Physical Therapist Different from a Sports Therapist?

As a result of the growing frequency with which been questioned on this subject and the fact that it might be crucial to draw a difference between these two professions, we'll attempt to address it in this blog post.

The ability to train a normal person or an injured athlete to perform the demanding tasks of competitive sports is one of the primary responsibilities of a sports therapist. This might include collaborating with people or groups.

But in the UK, anybody may call oneself a Sports Therapist since the profession is not regulated. Those with a degree and years of expertise in the profession must find this very disheartening.

Keep in mind that most private insurance companies will not cover the cost of therapy with a Sports Therapist, so it is important to be sure your therapist has the appropriate qualifications.

Your Sports Therapist, if they have a degree, will have up to 200 hours of practical training in prehab, rehab, and sports massage methods specifically tailored to athletes.

Following are the two things that distinguish between the two professions.


The kind of patients that each profession treats are one of the most strikingly different aspects of the two careers. Physical therapists provide treatment to anybody who is in need of their services, whether it is to increase mobility or as part of the rehabilitation process.

Patients may have been referred to the physical therapist by their main physician, and their assistance is required since the physical therapist is a secondary source of care and therapy.

On the other hand, sports physical therapists focus their practice largely on patients who are athletes. Their knowledge is also especially needed by professional sports teams in order for their players to remain healthy, avoid injuries connected to sports, and perform to the best of their abilities in sports.


Both sports therapists and physical therapists operate in a variety of settings; however, these differences are mostly attributable to the core client that each kind of therapist treats.

A sports physical therapist assists athletes and other physically active people in reaching their full potential.

Working in private clinics is the most prevalent employment setting for physical therapists. Since the majority of sports therapists are employed by sports teams, it is possible that their jobs will need them to travel either for work or to follow their teams to wherever they need to be.

In the United Kingdom, a sign of a competent sports therapist is membership in the Society of Sports Therapists.

Physical therapists, on the other hand, get a more comprehensive medical education than only treating sports injuries and helping people get back on their feet after surgery.

As a result of their extensive clinical training—more than 1000 hours—all physical therapists are well-versed in the whole spectrum of patient care.

Even the term "physical therapist" is a protected term under the law. For the title "Physical Therapist," the Health and Care Professions Council requires not just the completion of an accredited degree program but also rigorous adherence to a set of ethical and professional standards (HCPC).

Here you can see whether a physical therapist is registered with the Health and Care Professions Council.

Major Distinctions

Since the treatment plans of physical therapists and sports therapists are similar, it is sometimes difficult for patients to decide which is the better option for them. Yet there are significant distinctions:

  • Physical therapists are medical professionals with a unique set of skills and training that enable them to treat a variety of conditions, including those related to the nervous and respiratory systems. As a result, they are well-suited for dealing with a broad variety of patients, including those who have many complicated ailments.
  • Sports therapists are well-suited to avoiding sports injuries via targeted strength training since they often have greater exposure to athletic contexts throughout their undergraduate studies.
  • Sports therapy is more concerned with whether or not the patient has returned to or can maintain the required physical level for whatever sporting activity they wish to engage in, while physical therapy aims to restore patients to a level of functioning that allows them to feel comfortable and manage their daily lives.
  • Sports therapists are sought out by patients who want to get back into exercising because of their expertise and experience in the field of musculoskeletal rehabilitation, which is their primary emphasis.
  • Always keep in mind that these are broad generalizations concerning the two fields and that choosing between physical therapy and sports therapy is seldom black and white. Both physical therapists and sports therapists often have specialized knowledge in various types of rehabilitation.


When it comes to aiding in your rehabilitation from injuries or aches and pains, there is not much of a distinction between a Sports Therapist and a Physical Therapist. Who you'd rather see depends heavily on your individual preferences.

Both sports trainers and physical therapists concentrate on treating patients who have suffered some kind of physical trauma. A person who works particularly with athletes is called an athletic trainer.

A patient who has been wounded or is coping with an illness that impairs their physical welfare is a candidate for treatment by a physical therapist, on the other hand.

Another significant distinction is that although athletic training may help avoid future injuries, physical therapy is often geared more toward healing from existing ailments.

For example, a physical therapist may operate their own business, but an athletic trainer often collaborates with other medical experts in order to evaluate problems and develop treatment strategies.

Get in touch with the physical therapists at Physical Therapy & Sports Rehab to schedule a consultation today.