Sports Physiotherapy 101

Sports Physiotherapy 101

Some of you may ask what is sports physiotherapy? Is there a sports physiotherapist in Singapore? What is the role of a sports physiotherapist? Well, we’ll find out all these and more in the article below!

What is sports physiotherapy?

Exercise and sport physiotherapists are involved in the prevention and treatment of injuries caused by exercise and sports of all ages and levels of ability. These professional physical therapists provide evidence-based advice on safe participation in sports and exercise. In addition, they promote an active lifestyle to help people improve and maintain their quality of life. Exercise and sports physiotherapists also play a very important role in helping athletes of all ages and all ability levels improve their performance.

Sports Physiotherapy treatment

What do exercise and sports physiotherapists do?

The sports physiotherapy organisation defines a sport physio as “A recognized professional who demonstrates advanced competencies in the promotion of safe physical activity participation, provision of advice, and adaptation of rehabilitation and training interventions, for the purposes of preventing injury, restoring optimal function, and contributing to the enhancement of sports performance, in athletes of all ages and abilities, while ensuring a high standard of professional and ethical practice.”

Physical therapists in sports and exercise work in a variety of situations. Many private physicians and hospitals are working with active recreational athletes. You can also participate in social and club level sports or take part in training sessions.

Sports and athletic physical therapists often work in elite athlete settings in competitive and professional sports, travel with elite individual athletes or teams, and integrate services with other health care professionals, coaches, strength and conditioning personnel, and other support personnel. Sports and athletics physical therapists are also actively involved in various sports organizations to coordinate physiotherapy services, injury prevention, rehabilitation, and injury monitoring programs.

Sports physiotherapy Singapore

Exercise and sports physiotherapy roles and competency areas

Ashton (2015) describes the advanced functions of sports physiotherapists in injury prevention, providing advice to promote participation in safe physical activity aimed at contributing to the restoration and promotion of optimal functioning, and adaptation of rehabilitation and educational interventions. Improving sports performance in athletes of all ages and abilities while ensuring high standards of professional and ethical practice. The role of a physical therapist varies and may depend on:

  • The sport they are involved in
  • The performance of the sport, local level or international, amatuer or professional
  • Theri specific role within the team

The International Federation of Sport Physical Therapy has identified 11 competencies that are required for sports and exercise physiotherapists. Along with these competencies are a set of specific skills or standards that needs to be upheld. These competencies and standards are related to the various overlapping roles that the sports and exercise physiotherapist fulfil. The various roles and competencies can be:

Manager of client/patient

  • Injury prevention
  • Acute inteventation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Performance enhancement
  • Performance enhancement


  • Promotion of a sade, active lifestyle
  • Promotion of fair play and anti-doping practices

Professional leader

  • Professionalism and management
  • Life-long learning
  • Innovator
  • Extending practice through innovation
  • Dissemination of best practices
  • Research involvement

What can sports physiotherapy help me with?

Athletes clearly understand the role of a sports physical therapist, but there are cases where it is limited. They see the role of sports physiotherapists primarily focused on injuries. Four themes came to mind from an athlete’s interview about the role of a sports physical therapist:

  • Injury treatment
  • Injury prevention
  • Rehabilitation
  • Performance enhancement


Finding quality care in sports physiotherapy:

Athletes indicated that these qualities are important for sports physiotherapist to possess:

  • Being open-minded with regards to athletes idea regarding their management and use of the other practitioners
  • Good communication skills
  • Good personal qualities
  • Being accessible
  • Being professional
  • Have an interest in the athletes that they are working with
  • Good personal qualities

Qualities that athletes do not like to see in sports physiotherapists are:

  • Bad personal qualities
  • Being unapproachable
  • Not being a team player

Sports Physiotherapy treatment techniques:

Athletes feel that the following treatment techniques are beneficial:

  • Mobilisation
  • Massage
  • Manipulation
  • Exercise prescription
  • Acupuncture
  • Taping

However, this is also dependent on athletes’ exposure to the range of treatments. Athletes feel that the physiotherapist is the expert and they put their trust in the physiotherapist to resolve any injury issues that they athlete might have.

The sports medicine team

We have now reviewed the roles and required competencies of a sports physical therapist. We reviewed how well it fits the larger sports medicine team. This will depend on the type of sports environment in which you are working. Often, working with a local sports team, whether or not they apply in training and competition, is the only sports medicine profession who works directly with an athlete or team. In this situation, you will need to make a decision about leaving the field, managing your injury and returning to independent play.

Links between national teams and professional sports teams can be completely different. Often there may be no more than one sports medicine specialist on a much larger network of teams serving the team. Sports medicine is a very broad field, and this helps a multidisciplinary team of experts to practice. Each of these specialists has a specific set of expertise to provide optimal treatment to players as well as to enhance the knowledge and skills of their peers.

The best sports medicine team depends on your environment at large. At major events such as professional sports teams and the Olympics, sports medicine teams can be organised as follows:

  • family physician
  • physiotherapist
  • sports physician
  • massage therapist
  • athletic trainer
  • orthopaedic surgeon
  • radiologist
  • podiatrist
  • psychologist
  • dietitian/nutritionist
  • exercise physiologist
  • coach
  • fitness advisor

In summary, a sports physiotherapy session is with a professional therapist who is dedicated to the assessment and treatment of sports and exercise injuries of all levels and ages. If you are looking for more information relating to your sports injuries or if you just wish to speak to someone to address your pains and issues, do give us a call or visit our website here!

Request for Appointment