Physiotherapy vs Kinesiology

Physiotherapy and physical therapy are frequently used interchangeably. While some sources do make some distinctions between the two terms, many others use them interchangeably. In Canada and the UK, the term physiotherapy is more commonly used, while in the United States, the term physical therapy is more common.

Likewise, the terms physiotherapy and kinesiology are also sometimes used interchangeably, but they are actually two different things.


A physiotherapist focuses on the prevention and recovery of physical conditions that impair movement, optimization of movement, and promotion of physical activity. This may involve helping a client recover from an injury, teaching them how to manage their pain, or helping them to regain movement and function. Physiotherapy can help athletes who have been injured in their sport regain their previous level of performance.

Examples of things that physiotherapy can help with include:


A kinesiologist is a health care professional who specializes in the scientific study of human movement. Kinesiology covers a wide range of disciplines, from biomechanics to exercise physiology. It can encompass everything from how the body moves in response to exercise, to how posture and movement can be used to improve someone’s health. It also looks at how different factors, such as age and weight, can impact movement. Kinesiologists use their knowledge to help people prevent injuries, improve their performance, and rehabilitate from injuries. Athletes and other active people of all ages can benefit from kinesiology.

Examples of things that kinesiology can help with include:

  • Improving athletic performance
  • Rehabilitating from injuries
  • Injury prevention
  • Designing exercise programs
  • Improving posture
  • Improving flexibility
  • Increasing range of motion
  • Improving balance
  • improving joint function

So, while physiotherapy and kinesiology are both concerned with helping people with movement, they are distinct disciplines.

Scope of Practice

The main difference between these two professions is their scope of practice. Physiotherapists most often work with clients who have been injured, or who have chronic conditions that limit their mobility. They help clients regain strength and improve their range of motion through exercise, massage, and other treatments.

Kinesiologists, on the other hand, work with healthy individuals as well as those who are injured or have chronic conditions. They frequently work with athletes, rehabilitation clients, and the general population to help them reach their physical potential. Kinesiologists may also design and oversee exercise programs, teach injury prevention classes, or work with individuals to help them improve their posture or reduce their risk of injury.


In conclusion, physiotherapy and kinesiology are two different disciplines with different goals. Physiotherapy is focused on helping clients recover from injury or illness, while kinesiology is focused on the scientific study of human movement and how to optimize it. While there is some overlap between the two, they are distinct disciplines with different scope of practice. They are both important disciplines that can help people improve their quality of life.