Sports Therapists vs. Physical Therapists – What’s the Difference?

Sports therapists and physical therapists are often confused. Although they focus on healing bone and muscle injuries, there are many differences between the two professions. The process of healing injuries usually involves pain relief and reduction of inflammation, treatment and finally, rehabilitation.

Athletes undergo a prolonged rehabilitation process that involves advanced athletic skills and ability restoration. Whereas a physical therapist performs the early stages of rehabilitation, a sports therapist focuses on restoration of lost athletic skills. Here are the major differences between sports therapy and physical therapy:

Top 5 Differences between Sports and Physicals Therapists

  1. Education & Profession

Physical therapists, according to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), are healthcare professionals who are licensed and educated to reduce pain in patients, helping them restore or enhance mobility.

They help different types of patients ranging from those who want to improve their motion range for their daily chores to those referred for injury rehabilitation before surgery can be carried out.

Experienced physical therapists with proper education earn a lucrative salary, with those in the US making substantial annual salary on average.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, physical therapy jobs are forecasted to increase by 35% in the next five years; this means the future of physical therapy is promising.

On the other hand, sports therapists, according to APTA, are professionals who work with sportsmen such as athletes to minimize injuries. They also assess, treat and rehabilitate injured athletes.

Unlike physical therapists, they work with sports teams, specifically athletes to design injury prevention and optimal workout plans, including treating injuries.

Just like physical therapists, they have good salary prospects and with 36% job projection in the next five years, the future job market is promising.

  1. License Requirements

Although sports medicine therapists and physical therapists take the same Physical Therapy exams, the former have to prove their sports medicine knowledge before getting a license.

  1. Types of Clients

Sports therapists are often hired by sports teams. They work with athletes, providing them with optimized musculoskeletal training and instant medical attention during competitions. On the other hand, physical therapists work with a diverse client base.

Physical therapists work with any client who needs to expand their mobility or undergo rehabilitation. Most physical therapy clients are often referred by doctors to get a second source of recovery from disability or surgery.

  1. Job Location

Physical and sports therapists can work in offices or even their own practices. However, physical therapists often work in designated places while their counterparts travel for work to engage in competitions or even as teams practice.

  1. Treatments

A sports therapist helps athletes restore their athletic and recreation skills to take part in competitions while a physical therapist helps restore basic skills needed to embark on daily activities.

Since athletes are assumed to have advanced fitness levels before injury, they are often rehabilitated through plyometric exercises. However, physical therapists cannot use such rehabilitation workout to treat their patients who are mostly unfit.

Whether you’re looking to choose a career in either of the professions or simply want the right specialist to rehabilitate your injuries, it’s important to know the difference between a physical and sports therapist.

Contact us to find the right therapist for your specific type of injury or get your questions answered by a professional.