physiologist and exercise physiotherapist team photo

Should I see a Physiotherapist or an Exercise Physiologist?

If you have been experiencing injuries, pain, or other chronic diseases, chances are you have been advised to see either a Physiotherapist or Exercise Physiologist. These two fields are often interchangeable, and while they complement each other, and it is highly beneficial to see both, there are some major differences to keep in mind to help you decide between the two.

What is Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy is dedicated to revitalising and enhancing physical abilities, using a holistic approach to assess, diagnose, and treat musculoskeletal, neurological, cardiopulmonary conditions, and injuries. Physiotherapists employ hands-on techniques like muscle and joint therapy, actively engaging in your recovery journey. Ultimately, physiotherapy empowers patients to regain and maintain physical wellbeing and independence.

What is Exercise Physiology?

Exercise Physiology is a specialised field that focuses on creating and executing safe and effective physical activity programs for those with acute, sub-acute, or chronic medical conditions, injuries, or disabilities. It focuses on exercise and movement and works closely with individuals to create personalised exercise programs designed to enhance physical fitness, prevent injuries, and manage chronic conditions. 

Also, depending on your goals, you might be better seeing one or the other. TO have an idea on who to see, please see the table below:

Physiotherapy Exercise Physiology
• Can diagnose an injury or condition
• Focuses on one part of the body at a time
• Focuses on acute phase of injury and flare ups. It provides short-term relief to effectively manage your symptoms and restore function
• Hands-on approach - clients need to be physically with the therapist to apply the treatment to treat acute and chronic conditions:
-Soft tissue massage
-Dry needling
• Joint manipulation & mobilisation to reduce pain or stiffness
• Prescribe exercise primarily in acute phase, however can progress long term treatment
• Cannot diagnose but can manage and restore function of the diagnosis
• Has a more holistic approach - prescribe exercise and lifestyle techniques to promote healthy habits
• Short and long-term form of treatment- individualised exercise training programs for injury management and falls prevention
• Improve mobility, stability, and optimise function
• Hands-off approach- utilises movement and exercise. It also promotes self treatment techniques using trigger ball or foam roller
• Gives ‘homework’ exercises to supplement sessions, as long as it can be done properly and safely
• Management of chronic conditions with longer last effects
• Restore and maximise function yet also improve quality of life in the long-term

The decision to choose between exercise physiology and physiotherapy depends on your specific needs and goals. 

If you are dealing with pain, injury, physical limitations, or an acute condition, a physiotherapist is the right choice. They can assess your condition, provide treatments to alleviate pain, and guide you through the rehabilitation process to regain mobility and function. 

However, if you would like to improve your fitness and performance, increase your endurance, strength, flexibility, mobility and balance, or need guidance in managing chronic conditions through exercise, an Exercise Physiologist might work better for you.

These fields are both crucial in promoting overall health and wellbeing and understanding the distinctions between those who can empower you  to make the right choice for your unique health and fitness needs.

Improve Your Function and Strength With Us

Here at Allied OT, you can now conveniently book your Physiotherapy or Exercise Physiology appointments online. You can check the available appointments to find a schedule that suits you.

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If you have any questions or would like to clarify anything, please feel free to contact us.

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