Physiotherapy: Which Physiotherapist Should I See For Regular Injuries And Sports Injuries?

20 October 2021

“I have some shoulder pain and was wondering what is the difference between a regular injury and sports injury? Do I see a regular physiotherapist or a sports physiotherapist?”

– Joel

Hi Joel,

The terminology used by physiotherapists can be confusing sometimes. Peripherals refer to body parts in physiotherapy. The exception is the main body trunk, such as your spine and hips. So a shoulder injury such as yours is a peripheral injury.

Regular peripheral and sports injuries overlap significantly. You can get knee ACL injuries from incidents that are not sports-related, even though ACL injuries are much more common in athletes.

The main difference in physiotherapy approach in treating regular injuries and sports injuries are

  • the speed of recovery
  • the intensity of the treatment
Shoulder Injury Pain

Speed of Recovery

The pace of sports physiotherapy is generally much quicker and more aggressive. This is due to the demands of sports. The longer the athlete is down and out from training, the harder and longer it is for them to return to peak performance as their conditioning can deteriorate quite quickly. So treatment sessions tend to closer together and more frequently, several times a day in some cases.

Regular physiotherapy is spread out over a longer period of time. This will allow the body to heal more gradually.

Intensity of Physiotherapy Treatment

Moreover, the demands of sports can place a lot of stress on the injured body part. As such, physiotherapy treatment such as strength and conditioning are generally more intensive to build up support – stronger muscular balance and finer motor control to prevent re-injury.

Since high stress is unlikely to be placed on the injured body part, such treatments are generally not applied for regular injuries.