Athletic Therapist VS. Physiotherapist

physio for sports injuries

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When comparing athletic therapy and physiotherapy, there are a number of similarities when it comes to treatment. While some of the methodologies are similar, the two are different professions. Confused? Don’t be.

We’re here to tell you about the differences between physiotherapists and athletic therapists. This way, you’ll understand which option might be the best for your injury and help you to reduce your pain level.

What Is Athletic Therapy?

According to the Canadian Athletic Therapists Association, athletic therapists are trained experts in injury assessment and rehabilitation. 

Athletic therapists often respond to on-field emergency care when a sports injury occurs and they can also assist with preventing injuries with sports-specific training methods, functional movement programs, physical conditioning, and more. 

It’s not limited to the sports field; athletic therapy can take place in a clinical setting where sports injuries and pain can be assessed and treated in various ways. To become an athletic therapist, you must acquire a bachelor’s degree, complete an athletic therapy program, and pass the National Certification Examination to become a certified athletic therapist. 

Who Can Benefit From Athletic Therapy?

Certified athletic therapists mainly treat professional and elite athletes who have sustained sports-related injuries. As well, athletic therapists focus on treating patients with repetitive strains/sprains and soft tissue injuries. They can also treat pre/post-surgical conditions and workplace injuries. 

What Is Physiotherapy?

According to WebMD, a physiotherapist, or physical therapist, works with patients to help them manage pain, balance, mobility, and motor function. We know that sounds quite similar to what a certified athletic therapist does, but physiotherapists assess and treat injuries or musculoskeletal conditions with the use of manual therapy, prescribed exercises, and therapeutic modalities. 

Movement plays a big role in physiotherapy treatments as it helps the body use its healing mechanisms to build more strength.  

To become a registered physiotherapist, you must complete a bachelor’s degree and then a master’s degree in physiotherapy. You must also pass proper examinations to practice physiotherapy in Canada.

Who Can Benefit From Physiotherapy Treatment?

There are various conditions and injuries that physiotherapists can treat, such as the following:

  • Arthritis
  • Sprains and strains
  • Pre and post-surgery rehabilitation
  • Back and neck pain
  • Rotator cuff injuries 
  • Bursitis 
  • Fibromyalgia 
  • Neuromuscular disorders
  • Concussions
  • Whiplash

What Is the Difference?

Both athletic therapy and physiotherapy cover similar areas when it comes to their practices. They address the same physical ailments, such as:

  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Limited range of motion 

Athletic therapists work on patients with musculoskeletal disorders, whereas physical therapists treat those disorders as well as cardiovascular health issues, neurological impairments, and respiratory issues that affect the body. 

Athletic therapists have more knowledge surrounding sports-related injuries and environments but physiotherapists can cover a broader range of conditions and help patients relieve pain from injuries or disorders, and work toward functional independence. 

Treatment Methods

It’s important to note that while athletic therapists focus on the sports medicine model, that doesn’t mean they can’t help those beyond the realm of sports. These healthcare professionals use similar types of treatment methods as physiotherapists do. 

Treatment methods can include the following:

  • Manual therapy
  • Prescribed exercises to restore mobility and range of motion
  • Therapies to reduce pain in the joints and muscles 

Both athletic therapy and physiotherapy provide hands-on treatment to help patients after they’ve made an injury assessment. Manual therapy usually helps patients recover faster from their pain or injuries. 

Athletic therapists may specialize in helping patients through physical activity exercises focused on physical reconditioning by rebuilding strength. Some patients may have athletic therapy suggested to them through physician referrals, and a recovery plan may be designed to help them return to their sporting environments.

Schooling also plays a big part in what treatments can be done by physiotherapists and athletic therapists. To be certified in physical therapy, you need a two-year master’s degree on top of a four-year bachelor’s degree. Athletic therapy only requires a four-year bachelor’s degree. Therefore, physiotherapists tend to have more experience and familiarity with the broad treatment methods they can provide. 

How To Know Which Treatment Is Right for You? 

When you consult with a medical care provider, they can give you more details surrounding what health care professional will be better equipped to assist your situation. 

Patients will often get referred to a physical therapist for immediate care, as they have a more extensive background in rehabilitation techniques. 

Some of the issues that physiotherapists cover include:

  • Daily aches and pains
  • Sports-related injuries
  • Tissue injuries
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Ankle sprains
  • Strengthening muscles
  • Restoring mobility to the joints 

If you’re experiencing a lot of pain, you don’t need a referral to receive athletic therapy or physiotherapy. You may contact one or the other to receive an injury assessment and see what they can do to help. 

Our team at Fit4Life can provide much-needed relief to those dealing with severe aches and pains. If you think you might benefit from physiotherapy or massage therapy, book an appointment with one of our skilled and certified physiotherapists today. Let us take care of your body so it can take care of you.

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As one of the best physiotherapy clinics in Winnipeg, we will be hapy to assist you!

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+1 (204) 813-3484
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