Fighting back to fitness: The difference between Sports Rehabilitation & Physiotherapy

Everyone suffers an injury or reoccurring physical issue at some point in life, however this can be the start of the confusion as you decide on whether you need a Physiotherapist or Sports Rehabilitator.

male being given a shoulder massage by a physiotherapist

We have found out the facts from the expert lecturers at University of Cumbria to determine what the difference is between the type of client, physical goals and treatment of each occupation. A degree in Physiotherapy or Sports Rehabilitation offers exciting prospects in a diverse range of industries. We’ve got you.

Physiotherapy is a science based health care profession regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), focusing on physical activity that helps people cope with the demands of daily living.

The skills required for physiotherapy enable you to examine; analyse; diagnose and treat people with a range of health conditions. Physical treatments and exercise can be effective in stabilizing or improving individuals to offer a better quality of life.  

A degree in Physiotherapy at University of Cumbria offers the in-depth knowledge, practical experience and skills, alongside an understanding of the necessary values and behaviours. This prepares you for a variety of fields and areas of interest within the industry, including:

  • NHS: Hospitals; Clinics; GP surgery; Community.
  • Voluntary Sector: Charities; Hospices.
  • Private Practice: Clinics; Work places.
  • Professional and amateur sports.
  • Research & Academic Physiotherapist

Whereas, Sport Rehabilitation is a profession through the British Association of Sport Rehabilitators and Trainers (BASRaT) which is regulated by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA). Their specialism is in musculoskeletal injuries and rehabilitation, typically arising from sport and physical activity.

The central aim is to rehabilitate people back to full, functional fitness to be able to meet the demands of their sport/activity. They can also continue to work with athletes through strength and conditioning; which can prevent further injury.

Kate Walker- Small, Senior Lecturer at University of Cumbria defined two further areas within the field:

“Each rehabilitation journey is the same for both recreational and professional clients, regardless of level, you can pull a hamstring or twist an ankle playing sport. However, the difference lies in their rehabilitation of where they need to be.

Whereas a recreational sportsman may need to be able to reach a certain level, these demands will be far exceeded by a professional player who needs to produce a high level of performance.”

A degree in Sports Rehabilitations prepares you for a career in areas such as:

  • NHS: Hospitals and Clinics
  • Private sports injury and rehabilitation clinics
  • Professional and amateur sports
  • Health and Fitness centres
  • Research & Academic Sports Rehabilitation

Both career and degree shares the overriding aim of offering support and treatment to reach a physical goals. The difference lies in the type of client or patient and the method and extent of treatment, as this depends on their personal requirements. 

The two occupations complement one another in their drive to help improve people’s physical ability and wellbeing, based on progression and sustainability. There is great job satisfaction in the visible physical journey that leads to a positive impact on general wellbeing as well as physical ability.

Hear more from recent graduate and new students Union Welfare and Support Officer, Joe Morrell, who tells his inspiring story that led him to Sports Rehabilitation at Cumbria.

To learn more about courses in Physiotherapy and Sports Rehabilitation at University of Cumbria visit or call 03722912992. See you there.