Physiotherapy vs Sports Massage Therapy – Do You Know The Difference?

Physiotherapist, Sports Therapist or Sports Massage Therapist – all similar disciplines but what’s the difference?  Who is going to be best placed to help with your injury or ailment? Does it even matter? Here we explain the difference between the grey areas so you can make an informed choice when choosing who can help you reduce pain and start living and playing pain free again.

As Sports Massage Therapists we are often referred to by the public as one, or all, of the above titles.  We like to think  we take the best parts of the above and practise our own progressive treatment style.  But before we talk more about what we do let’s put the disciplines into context.


Physiotherapy is a really big subject.  It is normally what you, the public, associate with your needs when you have an injury, especially if you have had a visit to your GP. Physiotherapy is defined as “The treatment of disease, injury, or deformity by physical methods such as massage, heat treatment, and exercise rather than drugs or surgery”

Which is a pretty loose definition.  Physiotherapy has been around the longest and this is why you might associate injury treatment with physio.   Most Physiotherapists are taught an exercise based approach to treatment.  This is widely used in the NHS hence the legendary “here’s a sheet of exercises for you to do at home to help fix yourself”

That said there are many excellent Physiotherapists who are hands on with their treatment and use rehab exercises to compliment a hands on approach.  An approach as Sports Massage Therapists we like to use ourselves.

Sports Massage Therapy

Our discipline Sports Massage Therapy concentrates on the musculoskeletal side of things from the outset.  Our entire qualification focuses on trying to help you with that bit that hurts by using advanced massage skills, heat treatments, advanced injury treatments and advising on stretching programmes.  We are not qualified to diagnose conditions in the same way as a Sports Therapist or Physiotherapist would be.

Sports Therapy

Also concentrates on the musculoskeletal side of things and primarily use massage as a Sports Massage Therapist would but also joint mobilisation as a Physiotherapist would.  Can you see where the confusion comes from now?

The Verdict

As you can see the borders between the disciplines can only be described as grey.  With each discipline overlapping the other one.  If we can concentrate on what we’re doing with our clients and work together and be open to as many ways of helping our clients this can only be a good thing for our industry as a whole. What I love about Sports Massage Therapy is the total “hands on” approach.  Feeling the tissues, checking for discrepancies in the muscles, observing imbalances and using our skills to help make those discomforts/injuries go away.

For us regardless of discipline you choose we want you to find someone you can trust and like and has the knowledge and experience to help you get over your condition.  Personal recommendation is a great way of finding a therapist, we get most of our clients this way. 




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