Sports Therapy or Physiotherapy - what's the best treatment

Faced with a choice between Physiotherapy, Sports Therapy, Osteopathy, Chiropractic treatment and many other practitioners, it’s no wonder that most people with an injury will opt to see someone a friend has recommended to them.

In fact, most of our patients contact us after a word of mouth recommendation and many don’t really know what the differences are between these professions.

What’s the difference between a Sports Therapist and a Physiotherapist?

This is a question I have been asked increasingly frequently and indeed it can be important to make a distinction between these two professions, so I’ll try to answer it in this blog post.

One of the main jobs of a Sports Therapist is to be able to turn a regular person or injured athlete into someone capable of the complex activities involved in competition sport. This might be working with individuals or teams.

However, Sports Therapy is not a regulated profession in the UK, so unfortunately anyone can call themselves a Sports Therapist. This must be incredibly frustrating for those practitioners who have completed a degree and have significant experience in this field. However, it does mean that you should carefully check that your therapist is properly qualified and bear in mind that most private insurance companies will not cover the cost of treatment with a Sports Therapist.

If your Sports Therapist has a degree then you can be confident that they have comprehensive knowledge and training in sports-focused prehab, rehab and sports massage techniques, with up to 200 hours of hands-on skills training. In the UK, registration with the Society of Sports Therapists also seems to be a good indicator of a well-qualified practitioner.

Physiotherapists however have a broader medical training through their degree, covering not only sports and musculoskeletal injuries and rehab but also degenerative conditions, diseases, surgical procedures, neurological issues and elderly care. Every Physiotherapist will complete over 1000 hours of clinical work before they qualify and this means that they have a greater understanding of the overall medical management of a patient.


Physiotherapy is also a legally protected title. You may only call yourself a Physiotherapist if you have completed the degree programme and meet the strict criteria required to register with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC). You can check whether your physiotherapist is registered with the HCPC here.


In order to maintain registration with the HCPC, Physiotherapists must also complete regular training and produce evidence every year that they are aware of the latest treatment techniques, procedures, medical developments and advances.

Should I see a Sports Therapist or a Physiotherapist?

As Sports Therapists generally focus on musculoskeletal rehab and have a sports focused background, this might appeal to you if you’re aiming to get back to sport.

That said, many Physios specialise in treating sports injuries, sport-specific rehab and injury prevention through strength and conditioning programmes.

So I’d recommend you choose your practitioner based on their individual skills and experience and your own personal reasons for seeking treatment.

If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to get in touch,

The Physiofit Team