Sport Physiotherapy

The Value of Sport Physiotherapy

The physiotherapy profession has several areas of expertise to meet the health and mobility needs of Canadians. One specialized area of practice is Sports Physiotherapy.


What is sport physiotherapy?

Sport Physiotherapy assists active Canadians of all ages and levels with injuries sustained in sport, or with illness, imbalances, and barriers that prevent maximal participation and performance in sport. In Canada, Physiotherapists who practice Sport Physiotherapy, are members of Sport Physiotherapy Canada, a Division within the Canadian Physiotherapy Association.


Who practices sport physiotherapy?

Upon graduating from an accredited University Physiotherapy program, physiotherapists can focus their time and advanced training working with athletes. Sport Physiotherapy Canada has a credentialing system that allows members to progress their knowledge and skills through mentoring, courses, and written and practical examinations.


What specialized skills do physiotherapists have who work in sport physiotherapy?

  • ‘On-­‐field’ emergency care and sideline injury management
  • Organization of medical and paramedical event coverage
  • Athletic taping
  • Sports massage
  • Functional testing for return to sport decision making
  • Protective equipment analysis, fit and maintenance
  • Protective bracing selection
  • Knowledge of exercise physiology and strength and conditioning for exercise program development and modification
  • Clinical management of acute and chronic sport injuries
  • Pre-­‐season screening for detecting medical and injury risk and establishing baselines
  • Development of programs for injury prevention
  • Concussion detection and management


Who can benefit from sport physiotherapy?

The value of Sport Physiotherapy can be determined by considering who would benefit from these specialized and advanced skills:

  • General public can benefit from sport physiotherapy through expert management of acute and chronic injuries, assist with returning to training and provide advise on how to prevent Physiotherapy is a primary care profession which means that a referral is not required. This allows for timely health care access, early intervention and injury management, and prevention of secondary issues form being inactive.


  • Young growing athletes and teams can benefit from education on preventing imbalances related to the developing musculoskeletal system such as inflexibility, altered coordination and movement Injury prevention education also includes, why and how to complete proper warm-­‐ups, cool-­‐downs, stretching and other recovery tools. Understanding injuries and reducing fear is also important to ensure young Canadians continue with activity or sport. A special topic would also include education around Concussions in sport.


  • High performance athletes benefit from almost daily interactions with sport physiotherapy as part of their collaborative sports medicine Pre-­‐season screening and regular in-­‐season check-­‐ins can detect risks for injuries and provide guidance in areas requiring improved performance. With application of recovery methods, proper progression and application of exercise physiology, Sport Physiotherapy can help these athletes push their boundaries and achieve high levels of success.


  • Coaches utilize the expertise of the field of sport physiotherapy in developing injury prevention programs and yearlong training schedules to get peak performance from their Communication regarding field of play injury assessment, clinical injury management and return to training modifications and planning are also essential.


  • Schools and sport organizations value the input of Sport Physiotherapy to develop injury prevention and management protocols, concussion policies, injury tracking, as well as organizing and providing sports event first aid.


  • Older active Canadians can be taught how to continue beloved activities despite symptoms of past injury and illnesses such as arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis.


  • Those injured at work or from motor vehicle collisions can benefit from Sport Physiotherapy’s approach to return to play by applying them to return to work and daily activities through exercise-­‐based progressions and activity Concussions sustained here can also receive the most up to date, research-­‐based care.


  • Physiotherapists wanting to provide the best care for the active Canadian population or strive for the ability to attend sports events such as the Olympics, can learn more by becoming involved with Sport Physiotherapy Canada.


  • Other health care providers and fitness professionals including Family Physicians, emergency centres, Orthopedic Surgeons, Massage Therapists, Chiropractors, Osteopaths, Registered Dietitians, Personal and Team Trainers, and more, work closely with those in the field of Sport Physiotherapy to provide a collaborative environment for their active.


Physiotherapists can be found in a variety of settings including hospitals, schools, community health centres, nursing homes, fitness centres and more, but most physiotherapists involved with providing sport physiotherapy work in private practice physiotherapy clinics throughout Canada. They often work with other health care practitioners providing a multi-­‐disciplinary approach to care.


Where can i find physiotherapists practicing Sport Physiotherapy?

Members of Sport Physiotherapy Canada can be found through a link on their website under their ‘Find a Physio’.

Sport Physiotherapy can help Canadians of all ages and activity levels be healthier, perform better, and return to sport, work and life safely after injury. There is definitely value in seeking the help of Sport Physiotherapy.


Karen Decker, BScPT, BScKin, FCAMPT, Diploma Sport Physiotherapy, Diploma in Manual and Manipulative Therapy, Physiotherapist and Clinic Owner, CPA Member since 1991.

Karen Decker graduated from the Dalhousie University School of Physiotherapy in 1991 and also completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology. She attained the post-graduate specialization Diploma in Sport Physiotherapy in 1997 and the Diploma of Manual and Manipulative Therapy in 2003.

Karen has worked in private practice, treating orthopedic and sports injuries since graduating. She works with athletes at local to international sports events. She has travelled with many national teams. Karen attended the Olympic Games in Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008) and the Commonwealth Games in Scotland (2014) as part of the Canadian Health Care Team.

She has a special interest in pediatric sports injuries. Karen has attended six Canada Games and worked with Hockey Nova Scotia, Hockey Canada and Soccer Nova Scotia. She was the Polyclinic Manager and Lead Physiotherapist for the 2011 Canada Winter Games in Halifax.

find a physiotherapist


The Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA) represents physiotherapists, physiotherapist assistants and physiotherapist students across Canada. CPA members are rehabilitation professionals dedicated to the health, mobility and fitness of Canadians.

Physiotherapists are primary health care professionals who combine their in-depth knowledge of the body and how it works with specialized hands-on clinical skills to assess, diagnose and treat symptoms of illness, injury or disability.

More than 20,000 registered physiotherapists work in Canada, in private clinics, general and rehabilitation hospitals, community health centres, residential care and assisted-living facilities, home visit agencies, workplaces, and schools.