Sports medicine encompasses a vast field of medical professionals, including trainers, physical therapists, and even surgeons. Because athletes use their bodies much more intensely, they require a more intense level of medical attention, whether directly because of an injury, or simply to maintain or improve their physical abilities. This is where sports medicine comes in! There is a little confusion about what specifically athletic trainers vs physical therapists can do for athletes, so we wrote a brief guide to help you find the right care! New Height Physical Therapy treats a wide variety of patients, including athletes and dancers, and we want you to have the best information available for your care.

Athletic Training

Athletic trainers focus mainly on improving or maintaining an athlete’s skill sets. They generally draw up a training program over the course of weeks or months, designed to slowly build muscle and increase factors like stamina, speed, and strength. A good athletic trainer will have a basic understanding of how muscles work together, how the skeletal structure is affected by muscles and exercise, and will be proficient in exercises to enhance these systems. While trainers have experience with physical injury, they’re not necessarily trained to make diagnoses or provide medical care for an injury.

Sports Physical Therapy

Physical therapists are trained and certified to understand how the body’s muscular and skeletal systems work. Physical therapists are required to have advanced degrees, and must have their doctorate in order to practice physical therapy. While most athletic trainers have a broad understanding of musculature, physical therapists have in-depth and detailed training on how the body’s muscles and skeletons work. This developed and structured training is what sets physical therapy apart from athletic training.

Additionally, physical therapists are also able to diagnose and treat injuries. After getting injured, recovery through physical therapy is vital, to regain strength not only in the affected area, but to also strengthen and recover muscles surrounding the injury. Because musculature is such a complicated system, injuries don’t just affect a single muscle, tendon, or bone–an injury can affect a whole range of muscle groups!

Physical therapists can also offer valuable insights on muscle memory. As an athlete, you make hundreds of repetitive motions, and over time, your muscles have “learned” to make these motions automatically. But not all of these habits are good ones! An experienced physical therapist can examine your muscle memory habits, daily exercises, and even details like gait and strength, to determine how your habits are helping–or hindering–your athletic progress.

Professional Therapy for Athletes

Sports medicine is a vital and integral part of any athlete’s training. If you’re concerned that your muscle memory isn’t working in your best interests, concerned about a possible injury, or if you’re recovering from an injury, give New Heights Physical Therapy a call. Our experienced staff of certified physical therapists would love to help you perform at your best!

What is the Difference? Athletic Trainer vs Physical Therapist in Portland OR and Vancouver WA

Seeing Patients in the following Portland and Vancouver areas:

SE Portland | NE Portland | Gresham | Happy Valley | Clackamas | Milwaukie | Mt Tabor | Belmont | Lloyd Center | Laurelhurst | Hollywood District | Downtown Portland | Beaverton | Tigard | Hillsboro | Cedar Mill | Cornell | Sylvan | Cedar Hills

Downtown Vancouver | Fruit Valley | Hazel Dell | Felida | Cascade Park | Camas Washington

East PDX:
(503) 236-3108
(360) 737-3346