Athletic Physical Therapy 101: The 6 Parts

Athletic Physical Therapy 101: The 6 Parts

Athletic Physical Therapy 101- The 6 PartsIn a previous post, we discussed the different types of physical therapy and the benefits of physical therapy for many groups of people. Here, we’ll discuss athletic physical therapy (also called sports physical therapy) in more detail, discussing the techniques and benefits of physical therapy for physically active people.

Athletic physical therapy is a specialization that involves Evaluation, Prevention, Treatment & Rehabilitation, Performance Enhancement, Education and Research.


Physical therapists evaluate athletes for active and chronic injuries, observing the way they walk, run, swim, sit, and stand to look for signs of potential problems. They also evaluate patients as they progress through treatment and after they complete treatment to ensure a safe return to their active lifestyles.


For athletes, preventive care is paramount. Physical therapists might recommend specific athletic gear, bandage application and behaviors to protect the parts of the body that are most vulnerable. With preventive care, if an injury does occur, it will be less severe and easier to recover from.

Treatment and Rehabilitation:

At the heart of sports physical therapy is work done to treat injuries and help athletes and physically active people return to their lifestyles safely. Included in treatment and rehabilitation are pain management techniques as well as lifestyle changes implemented before, during and after physically strenuous activities. Athletic physical therapists work with people of all ages and skill levels, including people with disabilities as well as Olympic athletes.

Performance Enhancement:

Athletic physical therapy also involves evaluating physically active people for the purpose of performance enhancement. A physical therapist’s observation can help identify “room for improvement”: even if a person performs well, he or she may have weaker areas or parts of the body that can be strengthened through physical therapy. These performance-enhancing adjustments are almost never immediately obvious; that’s why athletic physical therapy is so useful for physically active people.


After treatment & rehabilitation, education is the other most-important job of a physical therapist. People who seek athletic physical therapy might already know some of the signs of dysfunction, but more information will help them stay healthier longer. Physical therapists help people identify distress in their bodies, care for it by themselves when possible, and adopt preventive behaviors.


Athletic physical therapy, along with other branches of physical therapy, is a growing field. Some physical therapists educate other physical therapists and train interns. Others attend conventions and conferences to broaden their knowledge and improve their own practices. People involved in athletic physical therapy should be ready to research more about the field, and why wouldn’t they be? It’s an exciting area on the forefront of healthcare.

Athletic physical therapy is a big part of physical therapy on a whole. Are you interested in participating in this expanding field? Athletic physical therapists, especially those who have their own practices, need aides and assistants around the office. For more information about athletic physical therapy or pursuing a career in physical therapy, contact us at ACHT and ask about our physical therapy aide training program.