The 4 Things You Didn’t Know About a Sports Therapist

By Lauren Howard

#1 - They are professional healthcare practitioners

A sports therapist (ST) is a professional healthcare practitioner that is trained to assess and evaluate musculoskeletal injuries and prescribe specific rehabilitation exercises and perform advanced soft tissue therapies to its clients with elements of nutritional advice and injury psychology when required. These skills are obtained as part of a 3 year Bachelor of Science degree (BSc) (or as an additional Advanced Diploma for qualified Physiotherapists, Strength & Conditioning coaches, Osteopaths etc.).

#2 - Not just for athletes!

A STs client base is not restricted to sports people alone, but also to the general population. The reason ‘sports’ is in the title is that during undergraduate training STs get specific training to facilitate athletes’ rehabilitation in a sports specific capacity; this is required when working with a variety of sports teams with different physical demands. Unfortunately, there is still confusion amongst healthcare practitioners and the general public about what a ST actually does.

#3 - It's so much more than just a sports massage.

While sports massage forms part of a STs treatment repertoire, this is a small part of a large spectrum of what they can offer. They are not a physiotherapist either, in that a physiotherapist’s undergraduate training is quite broad; with physiotherapists deciding what area to specialise in once qualified. There is a likeness between musculoskeletal (MSK) Physiotherapists and STs in that both are trained to assess, manage and treat MSK injuries.In this sense, STs will apply ‘physiotherapy’ modalities to treat an injury in much the same way, rather than drugs or surgery.

#4 - It's not a protected title

One thing to note about ST is that currently it's not state regulated, in that anybody can label themselves a ‘sports therapist’, even though they have no evidence of sufficient training and do not possess the advanced knowledge that is of paramount importance in this field of health care.

To sum up my message...

It's important to know that your ST has shown ability and competency to a high standard (Advanced Diploma/BSc/MSc) and that you are in safe hands when it comes to injury rehabilitation. After all, would you put your injured body in the hands of a surgeon or doctor that wasn't qualified?