Physical Therapies includes both physiotherapy and soft tissue therapy.
Physiotherapy is a healthcare profession that assesses, diagnoses, treats, and works to prevent disease and disability through physical means. Physiotherapists are experts in movement and function who work in partnership with their patients, assisting them to overcome movement disorders, and prevent, treat and rehabilitate injuries.
Soft tissue therapy assesses, treats and manages soft tissue injury, pain and dysfunction, primarily of the neuromuscular skeletal system. Massage is the most common form of soft tissue therapy.
Groups, societies and professional bodies
- Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) is the peak body representing the interests of Australian physiotherapists and their patients.
- Massage & Myotherapy Australia is a brand of the Australian Association of Massage Therapists Limited (AAMT). It was formed in 2003 as a not-for-profit representative body for massage, remedial massage and myotherapy practitioners nationwide.
- Massage Australia is a professional organisation that offers individual and business support for massage practitioners, students and associated people.
- World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT) is the sole international organisation representing physical therapists worldwide. It is dedicated to promoting the profession and improving global health.
- International Federation of Sports Physical Therapy (IFSPT) is a worldwide Federation which represents national sports physiotherapy organisations. It is a subgroup of the WCPT.
- Sports Physical Therapy Section (SPTS) is a component member of the American Physical Therapy Association, which provides a common forum for members of the Association with an interest in sports physical therapy.
Vocational education and training
According to the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) there are a number of avenues for study to become a physiotherapist. Physiotherapy programs are offered at many universities around the country. There are two principal degree programs:
- A four-year bachelor's degree in Physiotherapy or Applied Science (Physiotherapy)
- A graduate entry Masters program, which is a two-year accelerated program
The APA also provides information about career progression and specialisation as a physiotherapist.
Physiotherapists can apply for the title of 'APA Sports Physiotherapist' on completing an academic (masters level course) or experiential pathway. Physiotherapists working with Australian Olympic teams are required to carry the 'APA Sports Physiotherapist' title.
To become a member of Massage & Myotherapy Australia or Massage Australia you must be currently enrolled in or hold one of the following TAFE or university qualifications:
- Certificate IV in Massage Therapy Practice
- Diploma of Remedial Massage
- Advanced Diploma of Myotherapy
- Advanced Diploma of Health Science (Soft Tissue Therapy)
- Cert IV Musculoskeletal Therapy
- Diploma of Musculoskeletal Therapy
- Advanced Diploma of Musculoskeletal Therapy
- Bachelor of Health Science (Musculoskeletal Therapy)
- Bachelor of Health Science (Clinical Myotherapy)
Collaborative Research Effort - Athletes with Disability
The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) and Paralympics Australia support a number of athletes with a disability (AWD) who participate in a range of elite sports. Dr Keren Faulkner, as a physiotherapist at the AIS, noticed that the athletes she was working with were suffering due to the use of mass-produced or self-adapted devices including rowing or wheelchair seats stuffed with padding, and an overuse of duct tape. In order to ensure the wellbeing of the athletes in the AWD programs, Keren approached the Technical Laboratory to work with Chris Morgan, forming a small multi-disciplinary team to produce custom braces, seats and devices for the athletes aiming to represent Australia on the international stage
Ergonomic seats are essential for the rower to comfortably train and compete and remain injury free. In order to develop a seat that is comfortable for the athlete a collaborative effort is used. Gavin Bellis rowed in the adaptive trunk and arms mixed double scull, and represented Australia at both the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. When noticing that the seat that Gavin used was not working well for him Keren, his physical therapist at the AIS, worked together with Chris Morgan, to research and develop a more appropriate solution. The team included Gavin, his coach Chad King, Keren and Chris with some input from Jon Davis (Physical Therapy, AIS).
In order to ensure that the seat would be appropriate for competitive rowing Chris researched materials that would be suitable for the construction of the custom seats and settled on a closed cell polyethylene. The team set Gavin up, using blocks of foam and wood, replicating the correct physical geometry for him in the boat. In this position critical measurements were taken, and these were related to a data set which would then be transferred to the foam blank. In addition to this casts were taken of the athlete in a sitting position, enabling the accurate development of the seat structure. The blank would then be sculpted and machined to the point where a test fitting could be attempted and then refined until a satisfactory fit was achieved. This process has been repeated to ensure a number of adaptive rowers are fitted with seats that are appropriate for their body shape.
In addition to the complexities of the customised seats, some rowers require a chest restraint. The shape, position and composition must meet requirements in the rules for the sport. The strap must also allow for easy release in the event of an emergency. With this in mind, Velcro was used. Currently, the mounting gussets are providing the team with a challenge. Gussets must be the right shape and rigid enough to hold the strap in position but retain some give to allow for shock absorption. A range of materials and combinations have been trialled including harness leather, red hide and rubber compounds. Each material has provided certain advantages and disadvantages and research is continuing on this aspect of the project.
Throw frame for javelin
Further resources and reading
Access to resources
Where possible, direct links to full-text and online resources are provided. However, where links are not available, you may be able to access documents directly by searching our licenced full-text databases (note: user access restrictions apply). Alternatively, you can ask your institutional, university, or local library for assistance—or purchase documents directly from the publisher. You may also find the information you’re seeking by searching Google Scholar.
- Cochrane Reviews are systematic reviews of primary research in human health care and health policy, and are internationally recognised as the highest standard in evidence-based health care. They are published online in The Cochrane Library.
- American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
- Athletic Therapy Today
- Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation
- Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies
- Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy
- Journal of Sport Rehabilitation
- Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness
- Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
- Manual Therapy
- Physical Therapy in Sports
- PEDro is a free, physiotherapy evidence database of over 48,000 trials, reviews and guidelines evaluating physiotherapy interventions.
- ASC National Sports Research Centre - Medicine 1985-1995
- ASC National Sports Research Centre - Physical Therapies 1985-1995
- National Institute Network Research. Recently published sport science/sports medicine research from National Institute Network (NIN) researchers. This list is updated on a monthly basis.
Licencing restrictions apply to some resources listed below.
Public All Clearinghouse members 'Australian' members only
'High Performance' members only Restricted access
Please see Clearinghouse membership categories for further information.
- Periodisation and Considerations for the Prevention of Injury and Illness, Dr Mick Drew, Senior Sports Physiotherapist, AIS, Smart Talk Seminar Series, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra (1 May 2017)
- Personalising Tendon and Other Musculoskeletal Tissue Injury Rehabilitation using Technology, Professor David Lloyd, Griffith University’s Menzies Health Institute, Smart Talk Seminar Series, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra (22 March 2017)
- Working across disciplines, Professor Gabriele Bammer, Research School of Population Health, The Australian National University, Smart Talk Seminar Series, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra [06 Jun 2016]
- Silent Contributors to Injury - Illness - Performance Symposium, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra (18-19 March 2016)
- Monitoring Athlete Training Loads: what does that even mean? Feedback from the 2nd ASPIRE Sports Science Conference in Qatar, Dr Sally Clark – AIS Physiology, Ben Raysmith – AIS Physical Therapies and Mick Drew – AIS Physical Therapies, Avish Sharma - AIS PhD Scholar, Smart Talk Seminar Series, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra (20 April 2016)
- High performance Sport Rehabilitation – the Golden Rules, Dr Ian McCurdie – Chief Medical Officer for Team GB at the London Olympics, Smart Talk Seminar Series, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra (20 February 2014)
- Recreational Sport and Knee Osteoarthritis, Richard Leech, University of Nottingham, Smart Talk Seminar Series, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra (4 November 2015)
- Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS), Ben Raysmith, AIS Physical Therapies and Ross Smith, AIS Strength and Conditioning, Sports Medicine Australia presentation (17 September 2015)
- Tendon Workshop, Dr Jamie Gaida, Rodrigo Scattone da Silva, Craig Purdham, Presentation to AIS Staff (27 May 2015)
- Athlete Management System (AMS) Conference, Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), Canberra (16-17 March 2015)
- Muscular Injury to the Calf ultrasound findings and treatment, trail approach, Dr Karl “Bert” Fields, Medical Director, Sports Medicine Center, Cone Health System, orangesboro, North Carolina, Smart Talk Seminar Series, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra (10 February 2015)
- Subsequent injury classifications and their role in injury prevention strategies, Professor Caroline Finch, Director, Australian Centre for Research into Injury in Sport and its Prevention (ACRISP), Federation University, Smart Talk Seminar Series (08 May 2014)
- 2014 Bone Health in Sport Symposium, Charlesworth Theatrette, AIS Canberra (1-2 February 2014)
- Assessment, Management and Prevention of groin injuries, Assoc. Prof. Per Holmich and Dr Kristian Thorborg, Presentation to AIS Physical Therapies Staff, (27 October 2011)
- The enigma of hip and groin pain in sport, Assoc. Prof. Per Holmich and Dr Kristian Thorborg, Smart Talk Seminar Series , Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, (20 October 2011)
- AIS 30th Anniversary Series - Interview with Peter Blanch, Peter Blanch, AIS Physical Therapies, Smart Talk Seminar Series (26 September 2011)