Chances are you are here because:

ONE, you are confused about what each term means. Does sports therapy mean the same as physiotherapy?

TWO, you are looking to hire a professional to help with your backache but couldn’t make up your mind whether to go for a sports therapist or a physiotherapist.

THREE, you are in rehabilitation and in search of ways to get back to your prime form before the injury as quickly as possible.

Regardless, of your reason for landing on this page; we hope, by the time you are done reading this post to be able to understand the difference between sports therapists and physiotherapy. To appreciate the roles each professional plays in preventing injuries for sportspeople, helping athletes rehabilitate and get back to their sporting activity faster, and in assisting them to get back to their peak fitness before the injury.

So, if this is what you’re after, then we invite you to continue reading…

What Is Sports Therapy

The thing is sports therapy is a specific branch of healthcare focused on helping sportspeople prevent and overcome injuries as a result of their sporting activities. It also focuses on getting athletes back to their optimal physical and mental fitness after a period of layoff due to injury regardless of age and ability.

Sports rehabilitation can be the difference between a top performing consistent athlete and others. Fact is, sports therapy plays a vital role in the life of any sportsperson whether they are injured or not.

Here’s the thing

Sports people regularly subject their body to a lot of physical stress and strain that causes wear and tear of the muscles – these micro-tears of the musculoskeletal system if not adequately managed could lead to injury, pain, and or sickness. So, a sports therapist – that’s what someone specializing in sports rehabilitation is called – comes in, utilizes the principles of sports and exercise that involves some form of manual-based therapeutic interventions to treat the person.

Now, sports rehabilitators are not only useful for athletes when they are injured. Remember, we mentioned that sportspeople often suffer some form of micro-tears to their muscles during training?

Well, after these regular training sessions, the therapist rubs down the athlete’s muscles – massages if you will. This post-training process helps stimulate the tissues, facilitates the elimination of toxins from the muscles cells, and triggers increased circulation of nutrients to these body parts.

The effect of this manual intervention is that the muscle recovers pretty quickly – new cells are created to replace the old ones – and the athlete is back in no time without any pains or fatigue.

What is Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy is a broad term used to describe a series of healthcare approaches that aim to help people affected by illness or injury through manual therapy, exercises, and education regardless of age to maintain their health, manage pain and prevent diseases.

A physiotherapist, due to their broader medical training, is able to treat a wide range of ailments including neurological.

think: stroke, Parkinson’s, sclerosis; musculoskeletal
think: back pain, sports injuries, arthritis, etc.; Respiratory – asthma, cystic fibrosis, etc.

And cardiovascular – rehabilitation after a heart attack.

Unlike a sports therapist whose training focuses primarily on treating musculoskeletal injuries; that is injuries that affect the muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves, blood vessels, bones, and other soft tissues in the body. A physiotherapist undergoes training to manage different ailments associated with different systems of the body.

Finally, sports therapy and physiotherapy are two very distinct professions with a different scope of practice and rigorous training approaches; however, they often have overlapping treatment techniques and similar outcomes.


Now you know the difference between sports therapy and physiotherapy, how can a sports therapist help you with hands-on

A sports therapist will always walk you through a number of steps to understand your situation and then, create a personalized, hands-on treatment regimen for you. The first step is the consultation – here the therapist will ask you a series of questions to get a pretty clear picture of the injury. Also, expect to undergo some sort of testing that requires you to mimic the basic movements of your specific profession. 

This way, the sports rehabilitator is able to determine the areas of weaknesses then fashion a tailor-made plan for recovery.



Armed with the information gathered at the consultation stage, the sports therapist will go on to design a recovery plan that incorporates training for the specific sport or activity you’re involved in. Take, for instance, a footballer recovering from an ankle injury and wants to return to a competitive game would be made to undergo different training that reflect the necessary skill set needed to get back to the team. He would be made to practice his shooting, dribbles, and sprinting skills. Also, he would undergo stamina boosting routines to bolster his endurance.

Implementing these rehabilitation processes helps the therapist, athlete, and the medical team track their progress and also to know when the sportsperson is ready to return to the thick of the action.


Sports therapy can also function as an excellent preventative measure against injuries, dip in performance; and fatigues.

A regular sports therapy session helps to prevent muscle tears as well as chronic injuries due to tendonitis – tear and wear; it also helps maintain supple, healthy muscles and soft tissues; and improve muscle elasticity and flexibility.

By improving circulation to the cells through manual therapy, the therapist stimulates faster healing of the worn tissues ensuring the vital nutrients reach the cells in time while also eliminating adhesions and toxins from the muscles.

Apart from sportspeople, non-athletic people can also benefit from the services of sports therapists – whether you are a gardener, a factory worker or high-powered C-suite executive, a regular session of sports massage can help alleviate the pains, help you function better and more effective, and improve your mood.

Wrapping up

Sports therapy as a profession is different from physiotherapy even though there are some similarities in their approach in treating injuries.

Regardless of whether you’re a sportsperson or not, you can take advantage of the benefits of this treatment to alleviate work-related injuries such as back pains; 

Encourage quick recovery from injuries, and implement preventative measures.

Think you may need sports therapy?

At Bea Sports Injury Clinic, we combine a variety of proven therapeutical techniques to create a personalized treatment plan for you that target specific injury while also ensuring you get the most direct path to recovery.