Who should I see – a Physiotherapist or Sports Therapist?

Apr 11, 2023

Who’s the best person for my injury – a Physiotherapist or a Sports Therapist?

This is a question we are often asked, and the short answer is you don’t need to have a sports injury to see a Sports Therapist!

Both professionals are highly trained and experienced to treat your injury. The types of injuries the majority of people come to see us for are called musculoskeletal (MSK) problems. So those issues affecting bones, muscles, joints tendons, ligaments. Such as back pain, sports injuries, knee pain, whiplash, shoulder pain, overuse injuries, arthritis and others too. There are some key similarities and differences in our training and approach.

The first thing to note is that all our Sports Therapists are GRADUATE Sports Therapists (meaning they hold a Degree in Sports Therapy). This is really important as anybody can be a Sports Therapist so please do be careful who you see, we will cover more on this later in the blog.



Similarities between a Physiotherapist and Sports Therapist

Both Physiotherapists and Graduate Sports Therapists have undertaken and completed a University Degree in their chosen field of study (either Physiotherapy or Sports Therapy).

Through their time in higher education BOTH have gained the skills needed to assess, treat and rehabilitate neuromuscular and musculoskeletal conditions (muscle, joint and nerve related issues).

Physiotherapists and Sports Therapists BOTH; utilise a hands on treatment approach, can educate their patients about their symptoms and how to manage their pain, implement rehabilitation programmes and teach their patients how to stay fit and health.

Both types of Therapist have the skill set to use/provide:

  • Massage
  • Mobilisations
  • Electrotherapy
  • Taping Techniques
  • Stretching Techniques
  • Biomechanics Analysis
  • Exercise Prescription

Both are also able to attend courses on areas such as Acupuncture and Manipulations to contribute towards their Continuing Professional Development (CPD).



Differences between a Physiotherapist and Sports Therapist

Physiotherapy is a healthcare profession regulated by the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC) and you may come across the term Chartered Physiotherapist which means the individual is a full member of The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP).

As Physiotherapy is a protected title you are unable to call yourself a Physiotherapist without having undertaken a Physiotherapy Degree.

Sports Therapy is not part of the HCPC and nor is it a protected title.

This is why any practitioner who has undertaken a health related course can call themselves a Sports Therapist (e.g. Massage Therapist, Acupuncturist, etc.) However, a Graduate Sports Therapist has undertaken and completed a 3 year degree minimum.

Sports Therapist do have their own Governing Body known as The Society of Sports Therapists (SST) – they ensure standards are met and that Graduate Sports Therapists are continuing with their professional development.

Education and Training


Physiotherapists gain the knowledge and skills needed to improve a range of conditions associated with the different systems of the body such as:

  1. Neurological (Strokes/Multiple Sclerosis/Parkinson’s Disease)
  2. Cardiovascular (Chronic Heart Disease/Rehabilitation post Heart Attack)
  3. Respiratory (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease/Cystic Fibrous)
  4. Neuro-musculoskeletal (Back Pain/Whiplash Associated Disorders/Sports Injuries/Arthritis)

Physiotherapists gain this knowledge and their experience through their 3 year degree and a combination of university lectures and placement opportunities within the NHS and can choose to take extra placements within private clinics or the sports setting.


Graduate Sports Therapists undertake an intensive 3 year undergraduate degree (minimum) to gain the knowledge and skills needed to examine/treat/rehabilitate neuromuscular and musculoskeletal symptoms (muscle, joint and nerve related issues). This equips Graduate Sports Therapists with the skills needed to:

  1. Relieve pain and other symptoms
  2. Increase quality of life
  3. Maintain and maximise movement

Graduate Sports Therapists undertake placements in both the clinical (private clinics) and sports settings in order to gain more knowledge and experience.



Both Physiotherapists and Graduate Sports Therapists have studied and completed degrees which have provided them with the skills sets required to ensure patients are assessed, treated and rehabilitated back from pain and injury. The professions have multiple cross overs and hence their is a lot of confusion when discussing the two, however, both are great professions which can return you back to full health and fitness or the activities you wish to partake.

This blog post has been written to educate and inform people who were unsure on the similarities and differences of the two professions. It was not written to cause offence to either profession or the professionals working within the profession.

The important thing is, that you form a good relationship with your practitioner, that they listen to your needs and work together with you to achieve your goals so you feel the benefit from their treatment programme and plan.

If you’d like any further advice on who to see for your injury, then please do contact us at and we’ll be happy to advise.

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