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What is Sports Physical Therapy?

Sports Physical Therapy

Sports Physical Therapy is a specialized practice that focuses on prevention, evaluation, treatment, rehabilitation, and performance enhancement of the physically-active individual.

Sports Injury Prevention

The practice of sports physical therapy includes those interventions that assist the athletically-active individual in preventing injuries and then, if an injury occurs, continuing their pursuits with minimal disruptions. Areas of this practice include pre-participation screening, equipment recommendations, and cardiovascular fitness programs designed to assist in a safe and unremarkable return to activity.


Sports physical therapists are highly skilled in evaluation of active and chronic injuries. A hallmark of this practice is the assessment of surgical and non-surgical neuromusculoskeletal injuries. Included in this is the functional assessment of the individual post-injury to assist in a safe return to activity.

Treatment & Rehabilitation

Treatment and rehabilitation of neuromusculoskeletal injuries is at the center of sports physical therapy practice. In a team approach with physicians, the sports physical therapist designs and implements programs for the management of these disorders in clients of all ages and physical abilities, including those with physical disabilities as well as elite athletes.

Performance Enhancement

Sports physical therapists assist athletically-active individuals to improve their performance in a variety of ways. The foundation of performance enhancement is provided by a thorough evaluation of the neuromusculoskeletal and the cardiovascular-pulmonary systems. The results of this evaluation are compiled to outline strengths and weaknesses in an individual’s physical profile. This profile can then be matched to the individual’s specific athletic activity. Areas of deficiency in flexibility, muscular strength and endurance, and in the aerobic/anaerobic systems can be outlined in a specific training regime. Follow-up evaluations can determine further training program changes.


Treatment and rehabilitation are constantly changing in response to our interpretation of the basic and clinical sciences. The sports physical therapist is a part of a team that is researching and implementing research findings to assist the athletically active individual in his or her pursuits.

Athlete Education

Education of athletes and their parents and coaches about the various preventative and management techniques previously discussed is a service that sports physical therapists provide. Sports physical therapists are also involved in educating physical therapists, other allied health professionals, and physicians in these important areas.

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This Post Has 26 Comments

  1. I always think of physical therapy as treatment after an injury. I think it’s interesting that it’s also used to prevent injuries. I think prevention is more important that treatment.

    1. Rich-
      Sorry it took a year to get back to your comment. I am just getting the hang of this blogging thing. Yes, prevention should be the gold standard. If we can prevent an injury, there is a lot of research that downstream cost savings can be realized to a significant degree. Thanks a lot for the comment.

  2. I’m am happy I saw this article and I hope more people visit this site. Physical therapy is very important not only in recovery, but also in prevention. A lot of people don’t realize that until it is too late. I agree that education is one of the most important aspects of physical therapy. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I had no idea that physical therapy could mean performance enhancement. My son is an amazing soccer player, and I think this would really help him. He’s hoping to get onto a college team, so that would be really helpful for him.

  4. It’s good to learn that treatment and rehabilitation of neuromusculoskeletal injuries are at the center of sports physical therapy practice. It should help maintain proper muscle care. If I were to need the service, I would be sure to go to a chiropractor for aid. Thanks for the read! I would read more about this neuromusculoskeletal injuries too.

  5. Jeremy-
    Thanks for the comment. Yeah, prevention of injury is what we would all like to see ultimately, but treatment is many times when people end up in our offices. And you make a good point. Most people think that Chiropractors are the only people who can treat these types of injuries, but Physical Therapists are just as capable of treating them. We just need to be better about educating people on what we do as a profession. Thanks again!

  6. I’m glad you mentioned that sports physiotherapy includes equipment recommendations. My daughter wants to start body-building, but I’m worried that she’s lifting too much weight. Maybe a physical therapist could recommend how much she lifts so she doesn’t hurt herself.

  7. That is really nice that a sports physical therapist can assist individuals improve their performance in a variety of ways. I have a son that loves to play sports and he always wants to improve. I will have to see if some physical therapy can help him improve.

  8. My hubby is into playing soccer and he told me about a sudden pain in his right thigh everytime he stretches or constantly runs in the field. He said it’s tolerable, but I am getting worried as he has been enduring the same condition for a couple of weeks now. I knew we should consult a therapist, but we need to know exactly the type of therapist we should be seeking help with. It’s a good thing I went online and came across your post about sports physical therapy, how its being done and the kind of treatment and rehabilitation being applied to individuals. It caught my interest when you said that sports physical therapists actually creates programs to treat those target areas and get them back into its usual function in no time. I’ll certainly have a word with my hubby so we can start looking for a sports physical therapist the soonest. Thank you!

  9. My daughter got hurt playing volleyball, and her doctor recommended that she go get some physical therapy help. I’m really glad you talked about sports physical therapy, which I think would be some specialized athletic approach to her treatment. I’m going to have to look for some good sports physical therapy options for her and see what we can find!

  10. The field of sports Injury should be known to all, mainly for the sportsperson and the athletes. This blog has provided detailed information on the sports injury.

  11. My brother is a soccer player and he injured his knee last night while playing. It was explained here that treatment and rehabilitation are needed for injuries, especially for athletes. Moreover, it’s advisable to go to hospitals for quality physical therapy sessions.

    1. Sariah-
      Sorry for the late response. Yes, treatment for your brothers injuries would be appropriate. However, we don’t feel that hospitals are the best or only place that you can go for quality PT sessions. They are a good option, but private practice physical therapy clinics can be just as effective. Please let us know if we can help you find someone.

  12. My friend, Jess, loves to play all kinds of sports. However, she does tend to injure herself from time to time, so she’s been wondering if she should hire a physical therapist. I like how you mentioned that a physical therapist will not only be able to help her heal from injuries, but can increase her overall performance in her weaker areas. Do you have any tips for choosing a sports physical therapist?

    1. Taylor-
      Sorry for the belated response. If she looks for a PT who is a Board Certified Sports Physical Therapist (SCS), they would be able to help her. Chances are most physical therapists could help her, but if that’s what you’re specifically looking for, then that’s the route we would suggest. You can also find a Sports Certified Specialist on the website and scroll down to Find a Specialist. You can then search by zip code. Thanks.

  13. That’s interesting that sport physical therapists design and implement programs for teams to help the mange neuromuscular injuries and can do so for people of all ages and physical abilities. It would be smart for even college teams to have a therapist they could go to for different injuries since they tend to get hurt more at that level. This also would make the team feel better since they would be assured that their injuries would be taken care of in a way to help them be able to play again.

    1. Hazel-
      You are correct. In fact, a number of colleges now have PT’s on the sidelines, in the dugout or in the training room. Additionally, a lot of organizations have PT’s at their rehab facilities and places like that. Definitely starting to see a change in the value that professional organizations see in our services.

  14. I play basketball on a weekly basis. Now with that, I usually will get some knee pain after I am done playing. It might be a good idea to have it looked at as I don’t want the pain to get worse.

    1. Caden-
      Yes, this would be a good idea just to make sure that there isn’t anything wrong, mechanically, with how you are moving. However, at the same time, new research in the field of pain sciences speaks to the idea of knowing the difference between pain (due to damage to tissue) and more input from the nerves due to increased stimulation (activity). The bottom line is, yes, have someone look at it, but don’t be fearful or stop playing basketball because of it. Best of luck and let me know if you need any recommendations in your area for a good PT.

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