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The Difference Between Athletic Therapy and Physiotherapy

There are a wide range of paramedical services that are available to everyone to help you recover from and prevent injuries. Some common services that are well known include physiotherapy, chiropractic care, osteopathy, and massage therapy. Another service and the one that I offer is called Athletic Therapy. Some of these services may look very similar to one another, especially if the practitioner is thorough and well rounded in their approach. Each practitioner does have a slightly different skill set, but the services that look the most similar to one another are Physiotherapy and Athletic Therapy, and that is where this article will aim its focus at distinguishing.

Both Athletic Therapists and Physiotherapists have the ability to perform some form of manual therapy. This is any form of hands on work that you may experience when visiting them and can include massage techniques, joint mobilizations, stretching, etc. Where the difference lies in terms of manual therapy is in additional training and skills the therapist has acquired above and beyond what would have been attained in the traditional school setting. Things such as instrument assisted soft tissue release, active release therapy, or fascial stretch therapy can be learned and used by both Physiotherapists and Athletic Therapists and therefore some practitioners may use one or all of them while others may not, regardless of their title. One aspect of manual therapy that a physiotherapist may be able to perform that an Athletic Therapist may not is what as known as joint manipulation or adjustments (commonly practiced by chiropractors). For a physiotherapist to be able to perform this technique though, they will have had to go through extensive additional training/education.

Another aspect of both professions is exercise, but this area does differ as well. Physiotherapists in general use corrective exercises to help you manage symptoms and get out of pain. While Athletic Therapists do this as well, they also have the training and ability to take you beyond just feeling better and progress you back to your pre injury level of activity using a phasic and periodized approach. Some physiotherapists even refer patients to Athletic Therapists for the later rehab stages before their return to things such as sports or demanding jobs. As with manual therapy, there are many ways that both types of therapists can go above and beyond their traditional training and acquire higher level knowledge in many different aspects of exercise to help you on your road back to full function.

So far it seems like these two types of therapists are fairly similar, but now we will go through a couple larger differences found in the traditional training of them. Physiotherapists have more training and are better equipped to handle patients with cardiorespiratory or neurological complications. These are typically seen in patients who have suffered something such as a stroke or heart attack and are having difficulties with recovery. Athletic Therapists, on the other hand, are better equipped to deal with emergency situations and have extensive training for field work in sports or other high risk scenarios. So, while you may find both practitioners in a clinical setting, you may otherwise be more likely to see a Physiotherapist in a hospital, or an Athletic Therapist on the bench of a hockey game.

So, as you can see there are quite a few similarities between Physiotherapists and Athletic Therapists although they are two completely different professions. The biggest difference across the board, and this applies to more paramedical practitioners than the two we have been focused on, is seen in additional training. Therefore, one big takeaway is to do your research before you go see any therapist. Make sure they are equipped to help you achieve your goals and get back to whatever it is that you want to get back to.

So you know, I Kyle Frey, am a Certified Athletic Therapist with additional qualifications as a kinesiologist and strength and conditioning specialist. So, movement, exercise, and fitness are my specialties. I am also certified in soft tissue release to go along with the manual therapy techniques learned in the traditional training for Athletic Therapists.

I hope this article helps you determine who you should be seeking out for recovery, and if Athletic Therapist is the answer for you, feel free to reach out via the contact page of this website.


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