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What's the difference between a physiotherapist and a kinesiologist?

A background photo of a physiotherapist holding an ankle bone model next to a kinesiologist squatting next to a client.
Physiotherapist vs. Kinesiologist

With so many different types of health professionals it can be confusing to know the differences between colleagues that work along side each other especially with similarities. Physiotherapists and kinesiologists both focus on helping people move better and prevent injuries. Although both can design and implement tailored exercise programs, the difference between physiotherapists and kinesiologists is in their roles and training.


  • Trained healthcare professionals who assess, diagnose and treat a wide range of physical conditions.

  • They use techniques like manual therapy, exercise prescription, and other modalities to help patients recover from injuries, surgeries, or manage chronic conditions.

  • Physiotherapists often work in hospitals, clinics, or private practices.

  • They can assess and treat a variety of issues, from sprains and strains to neurological conditions.

  • Physiotherapists may also specialize in areas like sports injury rehabilitation, pelvic health, or hand therapy.

  • Physiotherapists graduate with a Masters program after completing a Bachelors degree.


  • Specialists in the science of human movement and exercise.

  • They focus on preventing injury and improving performance through exercise prescription and movement analysis.

  • Kinesiologists often work in settings like gyms, rehabilitation centers, or corporate wellness programs.

  • They design exercise programs tailored to individual needs, whether it's for improving strength, flexibility, or overall fitness.

  • Kinesiologists may work with clients recovering from injuries, athletes looking to enhance their performance, or individuals seeking to improve their overall health.

  • Kinesiologists graduate with a Bachelors degree.

In summary, physiotherapists diagnose and treat a wide range of physical conditions using various techniques, while kinesiologists specialize in exercise prescription and movement analysis to prevent injury and improve performance. Bottom line is that you should see a physiotherapist first, if you are injured or having pain to figure out what is causing your issue(s) before seeing a kinesiologist. At Empower Physiotherapy, both work together as a team to help you reach your health and wellness goals, and get you back to doing the things that you love to do!

Linda Maedel Registered Physiotherapist Certified Hand Therapist

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