What Is Sports Therapy?

What is a Sports Therapist? 

As defined by The Society of Sports Therapists, “Sports Therapy is an aspect of healthcare that is specifically concerned with the prevention of injury and the rehabilitation of the patient back to optimum levels of functional, occupational and sports specific fitness, regardless of age and ability.” 

 

This can treat musculoskeletal issues or injuries, assess and treat joint mechanics, as well as muscle and other soft tissue functions, from the onset of an injury, through a rehabilitation plan to returning to pre-injury fitness, where possible, whilst looking to prevent re-injury.   

Most Sports Therapists will be trained in pitch-side first aid, sports rehabilitation, strength and conditioning, soft tissue assessment and treatment (such as advanced sports massage techniques), and sports taping/strapping.

Some Sports Therapists will also have undergone further training qualifications and may be trained in neuromuscular assessment and treatment, dry needling/acupuncture, nutrition, and the use of more advanced equipment such as the Alter-G, shockwave, complex, hyperbaric oxygen therapy

Are Sports Therapist Qualified?

 Qualifications and Regulation 

Yes, sports therapists registered with either the STO or STA are qualified professionals who have undergone specific training and education to practice in their field. The qualifications and requirements for sports therapists can vary depending on the country and regulatory bodies involved, but they typically hold the necessary credentials to provide specialised care and support to athletes and individuals engaged in sports and physical activities.

Unfortunately,  ‘Sports Therapist’ is not a protected title in the UK.

This means that anyone can call themselves a Sports Therapist, but only those with a degree in Physiotherapy can call themselves a physiotherapist. Although there are similarities there are also marked differences, each with their own strengths so if you are on the fence we recommend a discovery call to help guide you on your decision. 

This can be frustrating for both the practitioner and a member of the public when trying to find a professional Sports Therapist. At The Physio Crew all of our Sports Therapists have completed a three-year BSc (Hons) degree programme and are members of a professional body. All our Sports therapists have access to two hours of training led by a senior physiotherapist every week.

Can Sports Therapist Diagnose?

The ability of Sports Therapists to diagnose can vary depending on their specific training and qualifications. Instead, their role primarily focuses on the assessment, treatment, and rehabilitation of sports-related injuries and conditions.

Sports therapists typically have a deep understanding of anatomy, biomechanics, and sports injuries, allowing them to perform thorough assessments to identify areas of concern, evaluate movement patterns, and develop appropriate treatment plans. They may use various assessment techniques, such as range of motion testing, strength testing, functional movement assessments, and palpation.

While sports therapists may not provide medical diagnoses, they often work closely with other healthcare professionals, such as physicians, orthopaedic specialists, or physiotherapists, who have the authority to diagnose medical conditions. Sports therapists may collaborate with these professionals by providing their assessment findings and contributing to the overall treatment plan and rehabilitation.

What Do Sports Therapist Specialise In?

Sports therapists specialise in providing care, prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation for sports-related injuries and conditions. They possess specialised knowledge and skills to address the specific needs of athletes and individuals engaged in physical activities. While their exact area of specialisation may vary based on their training and experience, sports therapists often focus on the following areas:

 

Injury Assessment and Management:

Sports therapists are trained to assess and diagnose sports-related injuries, including sprains, strains, fractures, dislocations, and overuse injuries. They develop individualised treatment plans to promote healing, reduce pain, and restore function. This may involve techniques such as manual therapy, taping, bracing, and exercise prescription.

Rehabilitation:

Sports therapists play a crucial role in the rehabilitation process. They design and implement rehabilitation programs tailored to the specific needs of athletes or individuals recovering from sports injuries. This may include exercises for strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination, as well as guidance on return-to-sport protocols.

Injury Prevention:

Sports therapists focus on preventing sports-related injuries through various strategies. They may educate athletes on proper warm-up and cool-down techniques, correct body mechanics, injury prevention exercises, and lifestyle modifications. They also analyse movement patterns and biomechanics to identify potential areas of vulnerability and provide recommendations for injury prevention.

Performance Enhancement:

Sports therapists often work with athletes to optimise their performance. They may provide guidance on training techniques, injury prevention strategies, and ways to improve overall physical fitness and conditioning. They may also collaborate with coaches and trainers to develop effective training programs.

Sports-specific Considerations:

Sports therapists are knowledgeable about the specific demands and requirements of different sports. They understand the biomechanics, movements, and common injuries associated with various sports activities. This allows them to provide specialised care and develop sport-specific treatment and rehabilitation plans

It’s important to note that while sports therapists have expertise in sports-related injuries and conditions, they may collaborate with other healthcare professionals when necessary. This includes physicians, physiotherapists, athletic trainers, and other specialists to ensure comprehensive care for athletes and individuals involved in sports and physical activities.

 

What Can You Expect From a Sports Therapy Assessment?

A sports therapy assessment typically involves a thorough evaluation of your condition, injury, or performance-related concerns. The specific components of the assessment may vary depending on the therapist and the nature of the issue being addressed. However, here are some common aspects you can expect during a sports therapy assessment:

Medical History: The sports therapist will start by gathering information about your medical history, including any previous injuries, surgeries, medical conditions, or medications that may be relevant to your current concern. This helps provide context and identify any potential factors that may influence your treatment.

Subjective Assessment: The therapist will ask you specific questions about your symptoms, such as the nature and location of pain or discomfort, factors that aggravate or alleviate your symptoms, and how your condition is affecting your daily activities or sports performance. This helps the therapist understand your experience and any functional limitations you may be facing.

Objective Assessment: The therapist will perform a physical examination to assess your range of motion, strength, flexibility, stability, and other relevant factors. This may involve various tests and measurements specific to your condition or concern. For example, they may assess joint mobility, muscle strength, balance, coordination, or functional movement patterns.

Functional Assessment: Depending on your goals and specific issue, the therapist may assess your functional movements or sports-specific movements. This could involve analyzing your running gait, throwing mechanics, or specific movements related to your sport or activity. Functional assessments help identify any imbalances, compensations, or weaknesses that may contribute to your condition or performance concerns.

 

What Can You Expect From a Sports Therapy Assessment continued...

Special Tests: The therapist may utilize specific tests or provocative manoeuvres to gather more information about your condition. These tests may be designed to assess specific structures, such as ligaments, tendons, or nerves, to aid in diagnosis or treatment planning.

Communication and Education: Throughout the assessment, the therapist will likely explain their findings, discuss their initial impressions, and answer any questions they may have. They may also provide education about your condition, injury prevention strategies, and self-care techniques to manage your symptoms or optimise your performance.

Treatment Plan: Based on the assessment findings, the sports therapist will develop a personalised treatment plan tailored to your specific needs. This may include therapeutic exercises, manual therapy techniques, modalities such as heat or cold therapy, taping, or other interventions aimed at reducing pain, improving function, and helping you achieve your goals.

Remember, the specifics of a sports therapy assessment may vary depending on the therapist and the nature of your concern. It’s essential to communicate openly with your therapist, provide accurate information, and ask questions to ensure a thorough understanding of your condition and the recommended treatment approach.

 

What Treatments Can A Sports Therapist Perform?

Our sports therapists are trained to provide various treatments aimed at addressing sports-related injuries, promoting rehabilitation, and enhancing performance. The specific treatments they perform may depend on their training, qualifications, and scope of practice. Here are some common treatments that sports therapists may perform:

Therapeutic Exercises: Sports therapists prescribe and guide individuals through specific exercises targeting strength, flexibility, endurance, balance, and coordination. These exercises are designed to improve function, enhance athletic performance, and aid in rehabilitation.

Manual Therapy: Sports therapists may utilise various hands-on techniques to alleviate pain, improve joint mobility, reduce muscle tension, and promote tissue healing. Manual therapy techniques can include soft tissue mobilisation, joint mobilisation, myofascial release, trigger point therapy, and more.

Modalities: Sports therapists may employ various modalities to assist in pain management and tissue healing. These can include the application of heat or cold therapy, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, antigravity treadmill, shockwave or other modalities depending on their training and available resources.

 

What Treatments Can A Sports Therapist Perform Continued...

Taping and Strapping: Sports therapists are skilled in applying specialized taping and strapping techniques to support injured joints or muscles, enhance stability, and facilitate proper movement patterns. These techniques can include rigid or kinesiology taping.

Rehabilitation Programs: Sports therapists develop individualised rehabilitation programs that encompass a combination of exercises, manual therapy, and functional training. These programs aim to promote tissue healing, restore strength and flexibility, improve movement mechanics, and facilitate a safe return to sports or physical activities.

Injury Prevention Strategies: Sports therapists educate athletes and individuals on injury prevention techniques. They may provide guidance on proper warm-up and cool-down routines, stretching exercises, injury prevention exercises, and lifestyle modifications to reduce the risk of injuries.

Performance Enhancement: Sports therapists work with athletes to optimise their performance. They may provide guidance on strength and conditioning exercises, flexibility training, sports-specific drills, and performance-enhancing techniques to improve athletic abilities and prevent injuries.

Education and Advice: Sports therapists offer education and advice on self-care techniques, injury management, ergonomics, and lifestyle modifications that can support injury prevention and optimise recovery.

 

Unsure Who Is Right For You?

Sports therapists treat a wide variety of conditions..

  • Back pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Knee pain
  • Hip pain
  • Sports Injuries
  • Muscle Strains
  • Rehabilitation

Book your free discovery call to learn how we can help.

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