Who is defined as an athlete?

Physiotherapists help people who are active. That means that if you are just getting started with regular physical activity, you play intramural sports, or you’re an elite, Olympic-level athlete, physiotherapy can help. Your sport physiotherapist has skills that are the standard in elite athlete care.

What is a Sport Injury?

Any injury that occurred while you were being active is called a sports injury. This might be a sprained ankle from playing soccer, or a repetitive stress injury from running (lower body) or swimming (upper body).


  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Poor performance
  • Pain
  • Loss of motion/strength/power

Sport Physiotherapy can help athletes with:

  • Sport and activity-related aches and pains, sprains and strains
  • Overuse injuries
  • Concussion prevention, assessment and recovery
  •  Any sort of physical injury, including foot, ankle, knee, shoulder, back
  • Balance, range of motion, strength, stability, mobility, speed, power and agility required to return to sport
  • Teaching you how to reduce or prevent injury
  • Performing at your absolute best (maintenance and performance improvement)
  • Returning to activity after a surgery (e.g. ACL repair or rotator cuff surgery)

How physio can help

Physiotherapists with specialized sport physiotherapy education from Sport Physiotherapy Canada, can help athletes rehabilitate. This includes:

  • Event and emergency action planning
  • Injury assessment and treatment
  • Taping and bracing
  • Gait/running and movement analysis
  • Training program development, and more

Sport physiotherapists can diagnose your injury and assist you with a safe, effective return to play rehabilitation program. They will:

  • Ask how your injury happened
  • Ask you about the demands of your sport and your athletic history
  • Assess your injury and perform functional tests, specific to your sport, to see if and when you can return to play

Sport physiotherapists understand the biomechanics of sport and the underlying causes of injuries. This allows them to better understand your injury and how to get you back to play. Your physiotherapy appointments will consist of:

  • Management of the acute nature of the injury
  • Exercises to address any weaknesses, or imbalances that may have been caused by, or were the cause of, your injury.
  • The use of athletic taping or bracing as needed
  • A gradual progression of sport specific exercises to get you back to play safely.

Good to know

Sport physiotherapists have post-graduate education and training with a focus on the athlete and all the needs of an athlete. Look for a sport physiotherapist with the credentials “Certificate” or “Diploma” in Sport Physiotherapy. Sport Physiotherapists work with national teams across Canada, including the National Hockey League, Canadian Olympic Committee, and any other major or minor games teams such as Commonwealth Games and the Canada Summer & Winter games teams. You will also find us on the sidelines of local club and recreational sport teams.

Sport Physiotherapists teach at most Canadian Physiotherapy Schools.

Sport physiotherapists are the best resource to return to sport following an injury.


This content was created by the Sport Division of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association      

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