(To the tune of the Ghostbusters theme song)
If you’ve pulled a muscle doing a slide tackle, who ya gonna call? Sports therapists! If you’ve twisted your ankle dismounting from a pommel horse, who ya gonna call? Sports therapists!! If you’ve dislocated your shoulder trying an audacious slam dunk, who ya gonna call? Sports therapists!!! Okay, we think you get the point…
Sports therapists don’t catch ghosts, but they do help sportspeople exorcise (or should that be ‘exercise’?) their injury demons. Employed directly by athletes, sports teams and specialist clinics, sports therapists use their expert knowledge of sporting injuries to treat patients and offer advice on injury prevention measures.
Sports therapists carry out assessments to evaluate their patients’ range of movement, the extent of their injuries and to figure out whether or not they can return to training. If the athlete is going to be out of action for a while, the sports therapist will plan and develop bespoke treatment plans to help them to regain their fitness.
A broad range of treatments can be implemented by sports therapists to improve their patients’ strength, stamina, balance and exercise tolerance, including therapeutic exercise, strapping, taping, heat therapy, electrotherapy, hydrotherapy, joint manipulation and massage.
Although sports therapists primarily focus on rehabilitating athletes with musculoskeletal conditions, they also carry out first aid during sporting events and deal with other physical injuries, such as flesh wounds and blisters.
Salary & benefits
Entry-level sports therapists tend to earn between £15,000 and £20,000 per annum.
Senior sports therapists, however, can earn up to £38,000 a year.
The nature of sports therapy means that you will regularly be required to work at the weekends and in the evenings, especially if you work directly with a sports team.
You may also be required to travel, both domestically and internationally, on a regular basis.
To enter this line of work, you will need a degree or diploma in sports therapy, which is endorsed by the Society of Sports Therapists. A range of universities offer courses in this niche area. Check out our Courses section for more details.
Another way to boost your employability is to get relevant work experience. Volunteer with a university sports club, get involved with coaching, or get a temp job at a specialist sports injury clinic. If anything, this will enable you to build up a network of useful contacts.
Training & progression
Working in sports therapy is a constant learning process and, in order to be successful, you will need to keep on top of research developments and teach yourself new skills and treatment methods all the time.
You can develop new specialist skills by attending courses offered by organisations, such as Sports Therapy UK and Active Health Group. Becoming a member of the Society of Sports Therapists (SST) may also be useful for networking purposes.
Many people start their career in sports therapy on a part-time basis or as an assistant. However, once you have gained a decent amount of experience, you may be able to secure a job with a sports club as a full-time sports therapist.
Many people opt to work on a freelance basis for different athletes. Alternatively, you could always give something back to the sports therapy community by working as a university lecturer and teaching the next generation of sports therapists.