What is Sports Therapy

What is a Sports Therapist?

The Society of Sports Therapists is often asked, ‘What is a sports therapist?’ There is still some confusion which, sometimes causes problems.

What is Sports Therapy?

Sports Therapy is a part of healthcare that is concerned with the prevention of injury and the rehabilitation of the people back to the best possible levels of sports specific fitness.

It uses the principles of sport and exercise sciences incorporating physiological and pathological processes to help the participant prepare for training and competitions.

For clarification – A Sports Therapist is a healthcare professional who has the knowledge, skills and ability to:

  • provide the immediate care of injuries and basic life support in a recreational, training & competitive environment
  • assess, treat and, where appropriate, refer on for specialist advice and intervention.
  • utilise sports and exercise principles to optimise performance, preparation and injury prevention programmes
  • provide appropriate sport and remedial massage in a sport & exercise context
  • plan and implement appropriate rehabilitation programmes

The spectrum of expertise that a Member of The Society of Sports Therapists must possess is built within five key areas of competency related to injury and illness in the sport and exercise environment. These are:

  • Recognition & evaluation
  • Management, treatment & referral
  • Prevention
  • Rehabilitation
  • Education & professional practice issues

Within each of these areas Sports Therapists and specifically those at Graduate level, are trained and educated in principles that have sound practical and evidence based philosophies with solid sport and exercise science foundations.

As such, Sports Therapists who are Members of The Society of Sports Therapists are required to meet clearly defined competency levels which cover the breadth of the above areas and gives them the knowledge, skills and ability to work at all levels of the sport and exercise continuum.

More importantly:

  • Sport and Exercise Therapy is not just about Sports Massage. However, Sports Therapists will possess massage skills that are an integral part of their scope of practice.
  • Sports Therapists are not Physiotherapists, but Sports Therapists will apply “physiotherapy” skills because physiotherapy is defined as “the treatment of disease, injury or deformity by physical methods including massage, heat treatment, electricity and exercise, rather than drugs or surgery”

Consequently, Sports Therapists will apply many skills and modalities that are included within this list but in a sport and exercise perspective rather than a traditional healthcare context.

  • Sports Therapists are not just first aiders. More significantly they are first responders who have the training, knowledge, skills and expertise to provide immediate care in a first response role. Members of The Society of Sports Therapists are also required to show evidence that they are up to date with these skills, on an annual basis, in order to renew their membership.

Allied to their Sport and Exercise science knowledge, therapeutic abilities and understanding of sport, Sports Therapists, and especially Members of the Society of Sports Therapists, are capable and proficient in applying the necessary rehabilitation principles, to enable their patients to achieve the optimum levels of recovery, that their injury or disability will allow. As such, the journey from injury to a return to activities can be facilitated by professionals who have the knowledge, skills and science based principles to meet the needs of a clearly defined patient group. More importantly, Sports Therapists are, and should be, an integral part of the Sports Medicine family, complementing and reinforcing the excellent skills and knowledge also being provided by colleagues and other professions.

Sports Therapy is a distinct occupational title that applies to a clearly defined scope of practice. Furthermore, since 1990, The Society of Sports Therapists has continually striven to ensure that its members are at the forefront of this rapidly increasing profession; academically, professionally, and practically.

The Society of Sports Therapists continues to ensure that both its Members and the profession are respected for the distinct scope of practice and science based foundations that are inherent and integral to Sports Therapists and Sports Therapy.