Physical Therapy

Have Wondered What Is The Difference Between: Sport Massage Therapy, Sports Therapy, Sport Rehabilitation, And Physiotherapy?


Most people are confused about the differences between these professions. The range of practice will differ worldwide. Regulatory standards are constantly changing, as knew scientific evidence is discovered.

Sport Massage

 A Sports Massage Therapist will use massage techniques in order to reduce discomfort, and as well as a preventative treatment dealing with the condition of muscle and connective tissue, range of movement, tone, symmetry, and improvement of posture. A Sport Massage Therapist will manipulate soft tissue to release tension, reduce pain, restore range of movement to allow an athlete to reach their physical peak. Courses for Sport Massage Therapy range from one or two days to several weeks, favoured by Beauticians and Fitness Instructors, to add to their skill repertoire. Sports Massage allows clients to work and exercise at higher intensities, and recover quicker.

 Sports Therapy

A Sport Therapy Practitioner course involves a higher level of training than a Sports Massage therapist ranging from diploma to university degree level, within a sport and exercise continuum. There is no mandatory regulation of Sport Therapists in the UK, although when Sport Therapists qualify, they can voluntarily register with organisations such as the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC), the Society for Sports Therapists (SST), the Sports Therapy Association (STA), and Sports Therapy Organisation (STO).

Sport Therapy educated is taught on evidence based philosophies and sport science. Qualifications range from diploma up to university graduate level, and students are taught various skills and modalities. Students are taught how to restore, maintain and maximise movement, reduce pain and improve quality of life.

The Sport Therapy Societies insist that members produce evidence that they are professionally capable, proficient, and conversant with their skills.

Sports Rehabilitation

Sport Rehabilitation is finally recognised as a health care occupation. Members of BASRaT’s register can display the Accredited Register quality mark; a sign that confirms a member meets the Professional Standards Authority’s (PSA) robust standards. Clients can have confidence that a Graduate Sport Rehabilitator belonging to a register is vetted and approved by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) for Health and Social Care. The PSA itself is sanctioned by the Department of Health and is administered by an independent body, accountable to Parliament.

Graduate Sport Rehabilitators are highly trained in sports and exercise based injury prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, including working in key rehabilitation roles for the ministry of defence across the UK and Europe, providing high quality care for our injured servicemen from the Army, Navy and RAF. The accreditation informs individuals that a Graduate Sport Rehabilitator is committed to high standards.

What is Sport Rehabilitation?

Sport Rehabilitator is a practitioner who manages pain, when recovering from injury or illness involving the musculoskeletal system. They mentor clients in order to restore them to previous health and fitness levels, and prevent injury. They will use evidence based exercise, movement and manual therapeutic interventions, to manage pain.

What to expect from your Sport Rehabilitator?

The first treatment consists of an in-depth interview and physical assessment to identify an appropriate diagnosis, any predisposing factors to injury and any other health related disorders. A Rehabilitator will formulate a treatment plan, supported by clinical reasoning to customise a recovery plan to restore clients to optimum physical ability.

All personal information, including sensitive information relevant to their condition as part of the treatment session, is kept completely confidential

What might my treatment include?

Treatment will incorporate therapeutic modalities and exercise with a plan that can be modified throughout the treatment process. This may include exercise rehabilitation, graded activity, manual therapy, postural assessment and modification, massage, taping, and soft tissue mobilisation.

Sport Rehabilitators will use a holistic client centred approach, considering the clients needs to allow optimal recovery. Treatment involves normalising biomechanics, exercise rehabilitation and returning patients to previous or higher levels of function.

Sport Rehabilitators treat a range of injuries including:

  • Back pain – thoracic, lower back pain, sciatica, and disc problems.
  • Sprains in ankles, knees, shoulder groin, hip etc.
  • Post-operative rehabilitation – (joint surgery, and replacements)
  • Achilles Tendinopathy
  • Cruciate ligament rehabilitation
  • Tennis elbow
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Bursitis
  • Fractures
  • Chronic pain
  • Repetitive strain injuries
  • Arthritis


Both Physiotherapists and Sports Rehabilitation practitioners are highly educated in dealing with musculoskeletal disorders, treating pain and injury through manual bodywork modalities, rehabilitation and patient education. Both concentrate on restoring, maintaining and maximising movement, relieving pain and increasing quality of life.

Sports Rehabilitators specialise in sport musculoskeletal issues. Physiotherapists have a broader base of medical knowledge, which allows them to treat, manage and prevent disease, as well as specialist rolls in social care. Some of the common conditions that physiotherapists at undergraduate level, treat are:

  • Neurological (e.g. stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s)
  • Neuromusculoskeletal (e.g. back pain, whiplash associated disorder, sports injuries, arthritis)
  • Cardiovascular (e.g. chronic heart disease, rehabilitation after heart attack)
  • Respiratory (e.g. asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis)

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