By Rehan Iqbal
A sports physiotherapist (sport physio) is a physical therapist who specializes in working with athletes to help them reach their maximum performance potential. Their work includes sports wellness at all levels ranging from providing good advice for sports injury prevention to providing care and treatment for sports injury recovery.
A “sport physio” provides sport specific knowledge and treatment regarding all sorts of sport injuries, including those that are acute, chronic or caused by overuse. This sort of specialized therapist is able to treat sports participants of all ages and genders, engaged in any sort of sport at any competitive level.
Why is a Sport Physio Different From a Standard Physical Therapist?
This specialized branch of musculoskeletal physical therapy focuses on the types of conditions and injuries that are exclusively experienced by athletes involved in sports. These conditions and injuries are rather different than the everyday aches and pains suffered by the general public because sport participation is typically more demanding and stressful to the body than everyday activities.
Where Do Sports Physiotherapists Work?
If you are involved in sports, you may find a sports physiotherapist working exclusively with your team, working in concert with other providers in a doctor’s office or working solo in a private practice. If you are hoping to become a sports physiotherapist, it’s easy to see that career possibilities are flexible and abundant.
What Sort of Training Does a Sports Physiotherapist Need?
The path to valid use of the “sports physio” title is quite specific. Training begins with the attainment of a bachelors’ degree in physiotherapy followed by specialized training focusing on human physique, structure, movement and form. It is also possible to attain qualification as a sports physiotherapist by completing a 4-year degree in a related field (e.g. exercise physiology) and then completing postgraduate work in physiotherapy.
Physiotherapists who have completed their bachelors’ degree in physiotherapy can add knowledge, skills and abilities to their repertoire to earn the “sports physio” title through schooling or experience. If they choose the academic method, they must go on to attain a Masters’ degree and then pursue two years of clinical training.
If they choose the experiential method, they’ll need to get five years of practical or clinical experience and a minimum of three years of related practice in order to earn the title “sports physio”. In this case, ongoing education and membership in related, qualified national organizations are also often required (depending upon location).
What are the Skills of a Sports Physiotherapist?
A qualified sport physio should:
He or she should be able to:
What Sorts of Conditions Do Sports Physiotherapists Treat?
As mentioned, a sport physio is tasked with preventing and treating all manner of sport related injuries. Some specific examples include:
It’s easy to see, from this extensive list of conditions with which sport physios are often faced, that the specialized, intensive and focused training these professionals receive is absolutely necessary. This truly explains the very exclusive use of the title “Sport Physio”.
This sort of focused, specialized treatment helps sport participants at all levels of play prevent injuries. In the event injury does occur, treatment provided by a specially trained sport physio can help players recover more quickly and get back in the game with the least negative physical and psychological impact and the greatest chance of full and successful recovery.
Consider these six benefits of receiving sports physiotherapy throughout your athletic experience.
The Impact of Physical Therapy on an Athletes Decision to Return to Sport