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Differences between a Sports Chiropractor & A Physio

At the Wimbledon Chiropractic and Sports Injury Clinic patients often ask what's the difference between your Sports Chiropractor and your Physiotherapist.

It's often very hard to give an honest answer, as the person providing the answer is usually a Chiropractor or a Physio, so their response is skewed towards their profession.

But we have worked hard on providing this robust answer below to detailed components of treatment experience where there are similarities and diffrences.

Differences between a Sports Chiropractor & A Physio - wimbledon


The experience a patient receives when visiting any manual therapist (osteopath, Physio or Chiropractor) may not be clear-cut. One pair of hands is different to another, and each clinic may have made different equipment investments.

Also, in the years following the initial  FOUR - FIVE YEARS (Osteopaths and Chiropractors) or the THREE YEARS (Physiotherapist) training may undertake the same or different post-graduate courses.

e.g. some Chiropractors might focus on sports injuries, while some Physio's may concentrate on treating stroke patients.

The above results in the overall package of care being different or very similar depending on the individual clinicians being compared.

your experience with a therapist at wimbledon chiro and sports injury clinic
Personal Disclaimer

As a Chiropractor myself I inevitably know more about the ins and outs of the Chiropractic profession than Physiotherapy. While in no way considering myself or being allowed (by law) to call myself; a Physiotherapist, I have a great deal of respect for the Physiotherapy profession.

Below is my best attempt at a straight answer, ignoring any additional post-graduate courses a practitioner in private practice may have taken (apologies in advance to any Physiotherapist for any inaccuracies). 


Physiotherapy and Chiropractic share common goals of using hands-on manipulation of the body parts to relieve and prevent body pain the goal after this pain has dissipated is to return your strength. Physiotherapists tend to focus only on muscles and have associated muscle skills (massage and exercise prescription) whereas a Sports Chiropractor will focus body-wide on everything that moves and use a range of extra skills to treat those parts as well as muscles (manipulation, massage and exercise prescription). 


Chiropractic traditionally emphasises achieving optimum joint alignment (where all the body joints have equal distance between their surfaces), particularly of the joints in the spine, to maintain optimum health.

Chiropractors aim to highlight the exact position of joint misalignments and the direction in which correction must occur.

Chiros are also trained to use x-rays technology to aid in this disgnosic and corrective process. However, chiropractors may use other methods to avoid x-ray exposure, i.e. photographs seen in our postural assessment software.

Physiotherapy recognised the potential for misalignments and was a leader with the Schroth Method at one point in Germany. Still, they do not receive the same training in x-ray analysis in later years.

Not having this radiographic skill, Physiotherapy presently doesn't tend to place exacting emphasis on how your body sits but focuses on how it functions (strength testing and ability assessing) as a way of diagnosing problems.

Although both can yield the same correct diagnosis results, one is exacting and finite, whereas the other is prone to practitioner error.

From my clinical experience of not using both objective measures (x-ray and Clinical pictures), I can say fewer patients get misdiagnosed because the ethos is that more information means better diagnosis.


Most Physiotherapy treatments include a fair amount of soft tissue work (massage and stretching) and should really include some movement quality education and coaching.

While most chiropractors will do the same they will also do joint articulation or “clicking” (High-Velocity Thrust, HVT) to loosen or re-align stiff joints, and re-set nerve reflexes. The average Chiropractic treatment will focus on re-aligning the spine and pelvis using manipulation, but the exact method of manipulation will depend on which chiropractic method is being used, for example, Diversified, Bio-Physics, Gonstead, Activator, Drop Table, or Mc Timoney Chiropractic techniques. We use a combination of Diversified, Bio-Physics, and drop table techniques and couple it with softening techniques (massage and foam rolling), stretching and stability exercises. 


Treatment times tend to be a little longer for physiotherapy, whereas Chiropractic treatments tend to be a little shorter but more frequent. However, at The Wimbledon Chiropractic & Sports Injury Clinic, these are usually 30mins a similar length to most physios in the Wimbledon area. 


Costs and sessions need to get patients out of the crisis are statistically similar in both professions.