Differences Between Physical Therapists and Trainers

Sep 13, 2023
Athletic trainers and physical therapists are both important healthcare providers for anyone who plays a sport. While these roles are similar, there are some very important differences that will help you decide who to seek out, and under what circumstances

The Basics: What Are the Differences? 

Athletic trainers work with athletes at all stages of their training and development to  prevent injuries from happening, and to speed recovery from minor injuries when they do occur. They are healthcare professionals that coordinate with physicians, urgent care, and physical therapists to help athletes prevent, diagnose, and recover from athletic injury.

Physical therapists are doctors who specialize in movement therapy. They work with the elderly, athletes, and anyone with a movement-related injury, in order to help them regain mobility and function. Physical therapists usually address more serious injuries and chronic conditions, such as complications from a stroke, major accident, or degenerative illness. 

Athletic trainers and physical therapists also have different training and certifications, to help you with a wide variety of health and wellness goals. 

When You Should See an Athletic Trainer 

Athletic trainers work with athletes and entire sports teams, to increase physical fitness and reduce the risk of injury while playing sports. If you are active and play sports recreationally or professionally, an athletic trainer will work with you to create a comprehensive training program. 

An athletic trainer works with you both before and after an injury. Training focuses on increasing physical fitness so that an athlete can be competitive and stay safe. If an athlete is injured, the athletic trainer will provide immediate care until emergency services arrive. Following an injury, they provide continuing care to make sure the injury heals properly, and to reduce the chance of further damage. 

When You Should See a Physical Therapist 

A physical therapist is a doctor who specializes in movement, mobility, and pain. You should see a physical therapist if you have an injury or chronic illness that negatively impacts your movement or causes lingering pain. Physical therapists will work with you over a longer period of time following an injury, building an effective program of recovery. 

Physical therapists work with athletes, but they also work with senior citizens and anyone with a movement related injury, to help them regain muscle strength, reduce pain and inflammation, and restore a better overall quality of life. 

Physical therapists teach patients how to manage their condition in order to restore mobility and prevent long term disability. They may also work with pain management doctors to find medications and other interventions that further help manage pain and inflammation. 

Athletic trainers and physical therapists are both healthcare professionals who help athletes remain healthy, and recover from injuries. However, each specializes in different parts of the health and recovery process and deals with different levels of injury and wellness. 

Ready to Get Started?

If you are ready for the latest physical therapy treatments for your pain or injury, contact Manhattan Physical Therapy and Pain Center today at (212) 213-3480 to learn how we can help.