What is Sports Physiotherapy?

sports physiotherapist is a licensed physiotherapist with extensive training in working with injuries related to physical activities. They have experience in the care of athletes of all levels ranging from high performance to recreationally active.

When suffering from pain or injury related to activity or movement you can benefit from seeking the advice of a therapist with extensive training in dealing with these conditions. Keep reading to learn more as we discuss some commonly asked questions about this growing profession.

Does a sports physiotherapist only treat elite athletes?

Although sports physiotherapists have experience working with high performance athletes, these skills are applicable to anyone who performs physical activity. This can include walking to work, keeping up with your kids or performing daily tasks such as carrying heavy groceries. All of these actions require a certain amount of strength, mobility and movement competency similar to those in elite sport. Professional athletes have the same anatomy as non-professional athletes so elite therapy services should not be exclusive to them.

What does a sport physiotherapist diagnose and treat?

Sprains (ligaments), strains (muscles), joint pain and inflamed tissues are just a few of the common ailments that can occur with physical activity. These can occur due to an acute injury (rolling an ankle), repetitive overuse (same movement over and over) or from improper movements (lacking require strength or range of motion). Many times the area of pain is not the source of the problem, but rather a symptom of dysfunction elsewhere in the body. A trained sports physiotherapist can help reduce the local symptoms and perform a thorough assessment to determine if there are issues elsewhere in the body that needs to be addressed. Diagnosing the cause of dysfunction will help reduce the likelihood of injury reoccurrence and improve your ability to perform pain-free.

How treatment with a sports physiotherapist might be different

Individuals who are physically active can have different requirements for their treatment and recovery from injury. Understanding the training schedules for sport, the needs of a physically active job or the importance of physical activity to someone’s sanity are important considerations when building a treatment plan. In addition to interventions done in the clinic, such as manual muscle work, acupuncture and therapeutic modalities, a sports physiotherapist will help you through a progressive exercise program and a methodical re-integration back into activity. This can include athletic taping, bracing, warmup/cool down protocols and self care at home using foam rollers, heat, ice ect. Injury recovery and movement correction cannot be achieved solely by the work of your therapist; active people need to take an active role in their recovery.

How a sports physiotherapist can work with your healthcare team

Sports physiotherapists typically have experience collaborating with other healthcare professionals. Professional sports teams have medical staff that consists of many therapists from many professions such as medical doctors, physiotherapists, chiropractors, massage therapists and athletic therapists. They understand that everyone brings a unique skill set and that the patients benefit from a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach. Many times patients will be seeing multiple practitioners for a specific problem and building open lines of communication will lead to optimal results. A sports physiotherapist might make a referral to another therapist and communicate to them the treatment plan and the goals moving forward to ensure everyone is on the same page. This has a positive impact on the return to physical activity process.

Experience the benefits of a sports physiotherapist

It is important to understand that everything in the body is connected and how you receive treatment should reflect that. Knee pain doesn’t mean you should just get your knee treated. How and when to exercise, what areas of the body to stretch/strengthen/mobilize and how the entire body moves in unison are all a necessity to not only recover from injury but to also thrive afterwards. A sports physiotherapist has unique training and experience to be able to offer these types of treatments and education to their patients. Life is an athletic event, it requires athletic movements and you deserve a therapist that understands this.