If I had a pound for every time that someone asked me the difference between a Physiotherapist, a Sports Therapist and a Sports Massage Therapist I’d be a rich man! I know the answer. But what difference does it make to you when trying to find the best therapist to help you with your condition.
Here we have an honest and light-hearted look into what you need to know to help you best make the decision when choosing who to spend your hard earned cash to help get you fixed.
Of course there are other professions such as Chiropractors and Osteopaths but they normally like to fight amongst themselves so we’ll leave them to it! N.B. for the record Chiropractors fix you by cracking your back, Osteopaths rub you first and then crack you’re back! (apologies to anyone in those professions for the gross over simplification!)
Physiotherapy vs Sports Massage vs Sports Therapy
So as a rule of thumb (and there’s going to be a lot of those over this blog!) if you consider a Physiotherapist to be more medical than Sports Masseurs and Sports Therapists then that’s a good start.
Physiotherapy in itself is a huge subject and roughly speaking splits into 4 different areas which have been simplified here:
- Musculo-Skeletal – when bits hurt
- Neurology – when nerves stop working
- Respiratory – when you can’t breath
- Orthopaedics – when you’ve just had an operation
So where does Sports Therapy fit into this? The best fit is into the Musculo-Skeletal section. As Sports Therapists we specialise in this area. However, so too can Physiotherapists. That’s we we have one working here! Equally Sports Therapists are well adept at dealing with certain kinds of neurological conditions.
What about Sports Massage? Sports Massage is really just one of many techniques to help you recover from your condition. Just like spinal mobilisation, joint mobilisation, muscle activation and exercise based rehabilitation. I’d say they’re the biggies in terms of getting you fixed!
So What’s The Difference In Qualifications?
Well Physiotherapy is degree level entry usually followed by at least a 2 year stint in the NHS working out where you want to specialise. Sports Therapy is not technically degree level entry but in most cases now is. For example yours truly is the holder of merely a diploma in Advance Clinical Sports Therapy, but then there’s no substitute for experience!
Sports Massage on the other hand is usually Diploma level. So point of entry knowledge may not be to the same level as Physiotherapists and Sports Therapists. However, that’s not to say there aren’t some fantastic Sports Massage Therapists out there. And I know quite a few. I’m a strong believer it’s not what your qualification is, it’s what you do with it. As with most occupations your qualification is just the beginning of your learning.
What’s All This Chartered Stuff?
State Regulation is the term. It simply means that the government has deemed fit to protect the name of the occupation in the interests of the general public. So if you’re going to see someone calling themselves a Physiotherapist then you know they will been trained to a suitable level.
Sadly Sports Therapy isn’t yet regulated. Sports Therapy is a newer discipline and conversations with our regulating body The Society Of Sports Therapists and the government continue.
Interesting But What Difference Does That Make To Me?
Not much, unless you’ve got private medical cover. Most insurance companies will usually only pay out for Physiotherapy treatment. Though there are some exceptions, Cigna being the most well known of these. That’s why as a business it’s useful for us and for you to have a physiotherapist working here.
The truth of the matter is anyone can. Go on personal recommendation for example. That’s how we get a lot of our clients. If your friends don’t have a recommendation then do some research. Most good therapists will have a good website and will explain what they can help with.
Equally things like testimonials and Google Reviews are a useful resource when selecting a therapist. We’re particularly proud of ours and that’s why we promote them. It says to someone who doesn’t know us that we know what we’re talking about – and if you don’t believe us give us a call and we’ll talk Latin to you down the phone!
So Who Does What And Which Techniques Are Best For Me?
As you’re probably understanding now the difference between the disciplines is not black and white but various shades of grey. Another rule of thumb is that Sports Therapists are more hands on – trying to change the way you work whilst Physiotherapists (especially in the NHS) are more hands off and give you exercises to do to fix yourself. But equally you can get very hands on Physio’s.
So if your prefer hands on treatment maybe a Sports Therapist or private Physiotherapist would better suit you. But of course the NHS is free, so you might want to try that – though waiting list for an appointment then becomes an issue!
So What Are The Hands On Techniques?
Spinal mobilisation, joint mobilisation, Muscle Activation and Sports Massage each of which can be preformed by a Sports Therapist, Physiotherapist or Sports Massage Therapist. So yet more overlap in techniques. Generally speaking there are many ways to skin a cat. Not that we refer to our clients as cats, or mention skinning them – I feel we need to make that perfectly clear!
At our clinic we’ve completely embraced the grey lines between the disciplines and aren’t too fussy about terminology and where the techniques come from. All we’re interested in is making the treatment as effective as possible for the individual.
How Do I Know What’s Best For Me?
Firstly make your selection on therapist based on the information you have available. If you’re not sure if anyone can help give us a call and we’ll tell if we can help. If we can’t we’ll point you in the direction of someone who we think will be able to help you.
Go along and meet the therapist for your appointment and see if you like them and trust them. In the trade we always say that it is our clients assessing us, not the other way round!
What If It Doesn’t Work?
In the first instance speak to your therapist and let them know that the treatment is not working for you. Before you do though be honest and ask yourself “Have I done everything that I have been asked to do?” We call it compliance. It’s well researched that people who do what they’re asked have better outcomes than those who don’t. It may be the odd stretch or exercise here and there or a slight change in posture.
If you can honestly say you’re doing all you can then tell your therapist. They may well have a few different ideas or approaches that may work out better for you. If they run out of ideas still do not despair. There are so many therapists out there all with a whole manner of different approaches and specialisms start the process again. Speak to the next therapist and explain what treatment you’ve had and if they have any different ideas that can help you.
We find we get the best results with Muscle Activation treatments. But find them even more effective when we combine them with Sports Massage and more conventional physiotherapy techniques such as joint mobilisation and rehabilitation exercises. If that sounds interesting to you give us a call on 01793 613352 and we can discuss how we can make you feel better. If that doesn’t sound like the right approach for you, continue searching, there will be someone out there who can help you.
What Should I Do About My Condition?
I’m hoping the all for the above will have eased you mind and helped you go about choosing the right therapist for you. Hopefully you end up choosing us. I am aware that it can be a very confusing business to those on the outside. The best thing you can do to help your condition is to do something about it, preferably now. If you don’t do something different chances are you’ll stay exactly as you have been.
We’re a friendly bunch us therapists. Whatever flavour of therapist that may be. We all take immense pride in ourwork and enjoy helping people. That’s what we do.
If you don’t believe you can be fixed then you won’t be. If you believe you can be fixed then you will. You just need to be shown the best way for you to move in the right direction. Whoever that may be and whatever that their qualifications are doesn’t really matter so long as you work together to get you fixed.
If you are struggling with any condition and you’re not sure if you can be helped, please get in touch by clicking the button below and we’ll talk to you about how we can help. Don’t worry we’ll soon tell you if you’re a lost cause. 99% of people aren’t they just need to their belief back that something can be done to ease their pain
You can find more information on our Sports Therapists’ approach and how that can help you on our home page.
This article first appeared on our Brighton site.