Despite the job title initially suggesting that we only treat sports people, this isn’t the case. Every day we treat people from all walks of life- whether you’re injured from sport, or have aches and pains from day-to-day life you could benefit from Sports Therapy treatment.
What is the difference between Sports Therapy and Physiotherapy?
This is one of the most common questions we get asked when people first contact us enquiring about appointments. There are some things which are very similar between the two professions. Both Graduate Sports Therapists and Physiotherapists are able to assess and diagnose MSK conditions, complete movement screening and prescribe bespoke rehabilitative exercise programmes. Physiotherapists can be trained for specific medical areas, such as pulmonary, stroke and cardiac rehabilitation. This is something which sports therapists are not trained to do during their time at university, however are becoming more commonly placed in the NHS, both on wards and in outpatient services.
The main difference between the outpatient services provided by sports therapists and physiotherapists can be described as:
Physiotherapists are able to rehabilitate people following a period of illness or injury and get them back doing day-to-day tasks. A sports therapist is able to rehabilitate someone to their previous levels of fitness prior to injury or illness, and return them to all the activities of their chosen lifestyle.
What can a Sports Therapist help with?
To many this is the most obvious reason for making an appointment with a Sports Therapist. Sports Therapists are able to assess & diagnose, in addition to rehabilitating and treating a wide range of musculoskeletal conditions. This can include sports injuries, but also covers aches and pains from day-to-day life. So whether you have a sore neck from sitting at your desk all day, or a swollen ankle after your football game, a Sports Therapist could help you.
Pain management and chronic conditions
Not everyone who comes to see us has a true ‘injury’. Some people come in with a pre-existing condition looking for help with managing their symptoms whist maintaining independence and quality of life. Sports Therapist are able to look at your biomechanics (Posture and movement patterns) to see if these could be contributing to the presenting symptoms. We are then able to use interventions such as mobilisations and corrective exercise to help alleviate symptoms. We are also able to use other approaches to treatment including massage and electrotherapy if it is felt these could be more beneficial.
Similar to the role of a personal trainer, a Sports Therapist is able to put together and prescribe bespoke exercise programmes. This can be built to meet the needs of the individual whether it is pre or post surgery, return to play rehabilitation, a preventative exercise programme, or general strengthening to enhance performance. Programmes will commonly include a range of different components, usually a combination of stretching, strengthening, and range of movement exercises in order to progress towards return to full fitness.
Training whilst injured
Although this is something which is not always possible, there are some occasions when the presenting condition of a patient does not warrant withdrawing from sport or physical activity completely. When this is the case, a Sports Therapist will use their knowledge of strength and conditioning to strengthen key muscles and adapt movement patterns so you can continue training to your chosen level, whilst managing pain and avoiding any further injury.
Day to day aches and pains
As mentioned previously, we don’t just treat sports people. A lot of the people that come into clinic have developed aches and pains without doing any sports. People who have a more sedentary lifestyle, such as those who sit at desks and are unable to move around during their working day, often complain of postural conditions. These can usually be corrected and managed using a combination of mobilisation, massage, and posture re-education.