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How to Choose a Physiotherapist

How to Choose a Physiotherapist

Choose PhysiotherapistWe are often asked how to become a physiotherapist and what the difference is between physiotherapists, sports physiotherapists and musculoskeletal physiotherapists. People are confused as to what type of physiotherapist is best suited to their particular injury or condition.

How to become a physiotherapist

Completion of a four-year undergraduate degree at a participating university is the most common pathway to become a qualified physiotherapist. An ATAR score of at least 90 is required to be accepted for a Bachelor degree in physiotherapy. A Graduate Entry Masters degree in physiotherapy is also offered for those who have achieved outstanding results in a previous science based degree.

Base physiotherapy qualification

Successful university graduates achieve a standard physiotherapy qualification. This allows them to work in any physiotherapy field, including private practice and hospital settings. Physiotherapists are required to complete ongoing professional development courses to maintain this base qualification.

Masters physiotherapy qualification

To excel in a particular area of physiotherapy, a further post-graduate Masters degree is required. Common fields are sports physiotherapy, musculoskeletal physiotherapy, women’s health physiotherapy, neurological physiotherapy and paediatric physiotherapy. These courses require a significant investment of time, money and dedication from the physiotherapist. The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) recognizes the advanced experience and expertise gained by these physiotherapists and grants them a protected title. The APA title, eg APA Titled Sports Physiotherapist or APA Titled Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist serves as a professional mark of distinction. Therefore, if a consumer sees Sports Physiotherapist or Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist, they can be assured that the practitioner is highly qualified and very experienced.

Sports Physiotherapist

Sports physiotherapists display advanced competencies in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal and sporting injuries among all types of people, from professional athletes to everyday Australians. They are experts in evidence based practice, anatomy, physiology, pain management and manual therapy. Sports physios are typically involved with sports teams, although their knowledge and clinical skills are also extremely beneficial in the private practice setting. To work with the Australian Olympic team, physiotherapists must carry the APA Titled Sports Physiotherapist title.

Adam McKnight is an APA Titled Sports Physiotherapists.

Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist

Historically, musculoskeletal physiotherapists were termed manipulative physiotherapists because of their expertise with spinal mobilization and manipulation. They focus on high quality manual therapy and clinical reasoning and have a thorough understanding of pain, human movement and psychology. Musculoskeletal physiotherapists are considered the experts in private practice and typically treat clients with musculoskeletal conditions such as neck and back pain. They use hands-on techniques to address underlying problems and prescribe exercises and other interventions to promote mobility.

Ruth Chang is an APA Titled Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist.


Physiotherapists are experts in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and pain associated with the spine, joints and muscles. Sports physiotherapists and musculoskeletal physiotherapists have advanced knowledge and experience in all aspects of musculoskeletal physiotherapy. Sports physiotherapists tend to specialise further in sports related injuries to muscles, joints and tendons. Musculoskeletal physiotherapists tend to specialise further in the treatment of spinal related pain and dysfuntion.


  1. Dean Phillips on September 17, 2021 at 8:49 pm

    I visited my sister last Friday in the afternoon where she told me about how she has been having back aches after a game of tennis the other day. For this, she plans to meet a physio and that’s where I told her I would help her with some research. I looked it up online and there, I stumbled on your excellent article. I am most impressed with where you highlighted that sports physiotherapists display advanced competencies in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal and sporting injuries among all types of people. This is a good point you made here, one I’m sure those like my sister will be glad to have learnt of. I’ll pass this on to her in a bit! Thank you!

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