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When we think of Physiotherapy, I think the most common thing that comes to mind is injury management. Afterall, the role of a physiotherapist is defined as the assessment, treatment, and management of pain, injuries, movement dysfunction, and chronic conditions”. Some of us might be surprised to find out, however, our role is not only for those already injured – whether it be through sports or not, but to prevent injuries from occurring in the first place (“What is Physiotherapy”, 2023). 

A sport physiotherapist is someone who specializes in the treatment and rehabilitation of injuries, as well as one who provides support with injury prevention, maintenance, recovery and support through all realms of sport (Grant et al., 2013) . Injuries in sport can occur over time, through repetitive use with poor preparation or faulty movement strategies. They can also occur from acute trauma. When we think of sport injuries we can think of sprains, strains, fractures, concussions/head injuries, or any other trauma that happens on field and keeps us from playing the game we love. 

The role of Sport Physiotherapy can be broken down into 3 stages:

  1. Before the Game

Whether it’s our one-sport players who are trying to get ready as they prepare for another hard season, or our seasonal busy bodies who just want to be able to keep going without anything stopping them – our job at this point is to screen your movement, test your baseline, and see where you’re at risk for injury. Before you’ve even gotten back into it – this is a crucial checkpoint in your sport performance to help you carry through your season injury-free. Why suffer the consequences if we can prevent them from occurring in the first place?

  1. During the Game

This isn’t a well known aspect of Physiotherapy, but as Sports Physiotherapists – we’re sometimes hired to watch your game. Sport Physiotherapists have special training in on-field injuries, CPR, and advanced first-aid, if an acute traumatic injury should occur. On-field – we’re also there to do quick check-ins, pulling you offside for a quick ankle tape, or a brief assessment to make sure you’re still clear to play without risk. 

  1. After the Game

So you’re injured. What now? As Sport Physio’s, our job is to assess, manage, treat, and educate you on your injury, and develop a management plan with you. We take into context the level of injury and what it means for where you’re at in your season, the risk-reward of playing or resting, and give you the tools to start getting back on track so when you’re ready to play again – your injury is too.

Those who have ever been injured playing their sport will know what it’s like to come back with the fear of re-injury. The research even shows that performances by injured athletes are held back, hesitated, and overly protected due to this fear of re-injury on return (Horvath et al., 2007). This is why the role of Physiotherapy is so important in sport – as the rehabilitation of sports injuries involves more than just repairing the physical injury but also understanding the impact of the injury on the athlete and how the psychological factors may interact with the rehabilitation process (2007)

I think we all know someone who sprained an ankle during a game or tweaked a knee kicking a ball, and once the pain stopped, they started back up again only to find that their ankle no longer supports them running, or is chronically painful and swollen after every game. The crucial role of a Sports Physiotherapist is to help you understand how your body moves when you play, why your injury still may hold you back even when the pain is no longer there, and build you back up so you can truly get back to playing the game you love without having the worry that you can’t give everything out there on the field, or the court, or the ice, like you once did before.


MSc(A) Physical Therapist

Grant, M. E., Steffen, K., Glasgow, P., Phillips, N., Booth, L., & Galligan, M. (2013). The role of sports physiotherapy at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

What is physiotherapy. Physiotherapy Association of British Columbia. (2023, July 19).