Sports medicine

Last updated

Sports medicine
KT 1000 to measure anterior-posterior laxity of the knee.jpeg
Orthopaedics is a large part of sports medicine, and knee injuries a common theme. Here a subject is having the anterior-posterior laxity of his knee tested.
System Musculoskeletal, Cardiovascular
especially athletics
Significant diseases
Significant tests Musculoskeletal tests
SpecialistSports physician
Glossary Glossary of medicine
Sports Medicine Physician
  • Physician
Occupation type
Activity sectors
Education required
Fields of
Hospitals, Clinics

Sports medicine is a branch of medicine that deals with physical fitness and the treatment and prevention of injuries related to sports and exercise. Although most sports teams have employed team physicians for many years, it is only since the late 20th century that sports medicine has emerged as a distinct field of health care. In some countries, Sports medicine (or Sport and Exercise medicine) is a recognized medical specialty (with similar training and standards to other medical specialties), whereas in other countries it is a special interest area but not an actual specialty.



Sports medicine can refer to the specific medical specialty or subspecialty of Sports Medicines. Sport and Exercise Medicine (SEM), which is now well established in many countries. It can broadly also refer to doctors and other paramedical practitioners who work in a more broad setting. The various sports medicine experts often work together as a team to ensure the best recovery plan for the individual. Team members can include orthopedic surgeons, certified athletic trainers, sports physical therapists, physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists, as well as specialty SEM physicians

Specializing in the treatment of athletes and other physically active individuals, sports and exercise medicine (SEM) physicians have extensive education in musculoskeletal medicine. SEM doctors treat injuries such as muscle, ligament, tendon and bone problems, but may also treat chronic illnesses that can affect physical performance, such as asthma and diabetes. SEM doctors also advise on managing and preventing injuries.

SEM consultants also deliver clinical physical activity interventions, negating the burden of disease directly attributable to physical inactivity and the compelling evidence for the effectiveness of exercise in the primary, secondary and tertiary prevention of disease.

European templates for SEM specialisation generally recommend 4 years of specialist training in all of:

Establishment as a medical specialty

Sports (and Exercise) Medicine (SEM) is now a recognized medical specialty in over 30 countries worldwide, and a recognized subspecialty in many others.

The Italian version of this page Medicina dello sport states that Sports Medicine societies were first established in Switzerland (1922) followed by: Germany (1924), France (1929) and Italy (1929) (Italian Sports Medicine Federation). Sports medicine was established as a specialty in Italy, the first country to do so, in 1958. The European Union of Medical Specialists has defined necessary training requirements for the establishment of the specialty of Sports Medicine in a given European country. [1] It is a goal of the European Federation of Sports Medicine Associations to eventually establish Sports Medicine as a specialty in all European countries. [2]

In Australia and New Zealand, Sport and Exercise Medicine is a stand-alone medical specialty, with the Australasian College of Sport and Exercise Physicians being one of Australia's 15 recognized medical specialty Colleges. [3]

An anomaly with respect to (medical) specialty recognition of SEM is that it has not yet occurred in some of the countries with very strong pedigrees in academic publication in the Sports Medicine field, including Sweden, Norway and South Africa. Sports medicine is only a subspecialty field rather than stand-alone specialty in the USA and Canada. All of these countries have very strong research publication records in the SEM field.

CountrySpecialist sports physician associationFully recognized specialty? (Year)Training requirementsGeneral sports medicine association
Australia Australasian College of Sport and Exercise Physicians Yes (2009)4 year training program Sports Medicine Australia
Austria Austrian Society of Sports Medicine (OSMV)Yes [4] 3 year Diploma
Belarus Belarus Sports Medicine AssociationYes [5]
Belgium The Belgian Federation of Sport and Exercise MedicineSubspecialty [5] 1 year
Bosnia Herzegovina Sports Medicine Association Bosnia HerzegovinaYes [5] 5 years
Brazil Brazilian Society of Exercise and Sports MedicineYes [6] [7] 3 years
Bulgaria Bulgarian Scientific Society of Sports Medicine and KinesitherapyYes [5] 4 years
Canada Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine Subspecialty
China No[ citation needed ]Chinese Association of Sports Medicine
Croatia Croatian Sports Medicine SocietySubspecialty of Occupational Medicine
Cuba Yes [8]
Czech Republic Czech Society of Sports MedicineYes [5] 5 years
Denmark NoDanish Association of Sports Medicine
Finland Finnish Society of Sports MedicineYes [5] 5 years
France Sport and Exercise Medicine French Association (SFMES)Yes [4]
Georgia Georgian Association of Sports MedicineYes [5]
Germany German Federation for Sports Medicine (DGSM)Yes [4]
Hungary National Institute for Sports Medicine [9] Subspecialty [5]
India Indian Society of Sports and Exercise Medicine (ISSEM) [10] Yes (1987 for PG Diploma & 2013 for MD) [11] 2 [12] & 3 years [13] Indian Association of Sports Medicine & Indian Federation of Sports Medicine
Indonesia Indonesia Sports Medicine Association (PDSKO) [14] Yes [15] 3,5 years [15] Indonesian Sports Health Supervisory Association
Ireland Faculty of Sports and Exercise MedicineYes [16] (2017)
Israel Israel Society of Sports MedicineYes [17]
Italy Federazione Medico Sportiva Italiana (FMSI)Yes [4] (1958)5 years
Japan Japan Medical Association Certified Sports Health Medical SystemYes (1994) [18] The Japanese Federation of Physical Fitness & Sports Medicine
Latvia Latvian Sports Medicine AssociationYes [5] 4 years
Mexico Yes [8]
Netherlands Netherlands Association of Sports Medicine NASM - VSGYes [5] (2014)4 years
New Zealand Australasian College of Sport and Exercise Physicians Yes (1998)4 yearsSports Medicine New Zealand
Norway NoNorwegian Sports Medicine Association
Poland Yes [19]
Portugal Sociedade Portuguesa de Medicina DesportivaYes [5]
Russia Russian Association of Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation of Patients and the DisabledYes [5] 2 years
Serbia Sport Medicine Association of SerbiaYes3 years
Slovakia Slovak Society of Sports MedicineSubspecialty(6 years)
Slovenia Slovenian Sports Medicine AssociationYes [5]
South Africa No [20] South Africa Sports Medicine Association (SASMA)
South Korea Subspecialty [21] Korean Society of Sports Medicine (KSSM)
Spain SMD (Sociedad Española de Medicina del Deporte)Yes3 years
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka Sports Medicine AssociationYes [22] 3 years
Sweden NoSwedish Society for Physical Activity and Sports Medicine
Switzerland Swiss Society for Sports Medicine (SGSM)Subspecialty [5]
Turkey Turkish Sports Medicine AssociationYes [5]
Ukraine Ukrainian Sport Medicine and Physical Exercises Specialists Association (USMPESA)Yes [5]
United Kingdom Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine UK Yes (2006)4 years British Association of Sport and Exercise Medicine
United States of America Subspeciality (1994) of:
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Family Practice
  • Orthopedics
  • Pediatrics
  • Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
1-2 year Fellowships American College of Sports Medicine
Uruguay Yes [8]

Public health

SEM physicians are frequently involved in promoting the therapeutic benefits of physical activity, exercise and sport for the individuals and communities. SEM Physicians in the UK spend a period of their training in public health, and advise public health physicians on matters relating to physical activity promotion.

Sports Medicine.jpg

Common sports injuries

Common sports injuries that can result in seeing a sports medicine specialist are knee and shoulder injuries, fractures, ankle sprains, concussions, cartilage injuries, and more. A sports medicine specialist can also be seen for advice in other areas of health, like nutrition, exercise, supplements, and how to prevent injuries before they occur. A sports medicine specialist works to help make the performance of the athlete more advanced, as well as ensuring their safety while performing the activity. [23]

Allied health team members

Athletic trainers

Athletic trainers are typically part of a sports medicine team in the USA, providing primary care, injury and illness prevention, wellness promotion, emergency care, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation to injuries. [24] When an athlete is injured, an athletic trainer is key to treatment and rehabilitation working closely with the athlete throughout rehabilitation. [25]


Physiotherapists (US Physical therapists) are often the primary allied health sports medicine team members in countries other than the USA. Physiotherapists can specialize in many areas with sports physiotherapy being a major subspecialty.

See also

Related Research Articles

Medicine Diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of illness

Medicine is the science and practice of caring for a patient and managing the diagnosis, prognosis, prevention, treatment or palliation of their injury or disease. Medicine encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness. Contemporary medicine applies biomedical sciences, biomedical research, genetics, and medical technology to diagnose, treat, and prevent injury and disease, typically through pharmaceuticals or surgery, but also through therapies as diverse as psychotherapy, external splints and traction, medical devices, biologics, and ionizing radiation, amongst others.

Neurology Medical specialty dealing with disorders of the nervous system

Neurology is a branch of medicine dealing with disorders of the nervous system. Neurology deals with the diagnosis and treatment of all categories of conditions and disease involving the central and peripheral nervous systems, including their coverings, blood vessels, and all effector tissue, such as muscle. Neurological practice relies heavily on the field of neuroscience, the scientific study of the nervous system.

Internal medicine or general internal medicine is the medical specialty dealing with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of internal diseases. Physicians specializing in internal medicine are called internists, or physicians in Commonwealth nations. Internists are skilled in the management of patients who have undifferentiated or multi-system disease processes. Internists care for hospitalized and ambulatory patients and may play a major role in teaching and research. Internal medicine and family medicine are often confused as equivalent in the Commonwealth nations.

Kinesiology The study of anatomy, physiology, and mechanics of body movement, especially in humans

Kinesiology is the scientific study of human or non-human body movement. Kinesiology addresses physiological, biomechanical, and psychological dynamic principles and mechanisms of movement. Applications of kinesiology to human health include biomechanics and orthopedics; strength and conditioning; sport psychology; motor control; skill acquisition and motor learning; methods of rehabilitation, such as physical and occupational therapy; and sport and exercise physiology. Studies of human and animal motion include measures from motion tracking systems, electrophysiology of muscle and brain activity, various methods for monitoring physiological function, and other behavioral and cognitive research techniques.

Pulmonology Study of respiratory diseases

Pulmonology or pneumology is a medical specialty that deals with diseases involving the respiratory tract. It is also known as respirology, respiratory medicine, or chest medicine in some countries and areas.

Physical medicine and rehabilitation Branch of medicine

Physical medicine and rehabilitation, also known as physiatry, is a branch of medicine that aims to enhance and restore functional ability and quality of life to people with physical impairments or disabilities. This can include conditions such as spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, strokes, as well as pain or disability due to muscle, ligament or nerve damage. A physician having completed training in this field may be referred to as a physiatrist.

Athletic training has been recognized by the American Medical Association (AMA) as an allied health care profession since June 1991.

"Athletic training is practiced by athletic trainers, health care professionals who collaborate with physicians to optimize activity and participation of patients and clients. Athletic training encompasses the prevention, diagnosis, and intervention of emergency, acute and chronic medical conditions involving impairment, functional limitations and disabilities."

Athletic trainer

An athletic trainer is a certified and licensed health care professional who practices in the field of sports medicine. Athletic training has been recognized by the American Medical Association (AMA) as an allied health care profession since 1990.

A medical specialty is a branch of medical practice that is focused on a defined group of patients, diseases, skills, or philosophy. Examples include children (paediatrics), cancer (oncology), laboratory medicine (pathology), or primary care. After completing medical school, physicians or surgeons usually further their medical education in a specific specialty of medicine by completing a multiple-year residency to become a specialist.

American College of Sports Medicine

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, is a large sports medicine and exercise science membership organization. Founded in 1954, ACSM promotes and integrates scientific research, education, and practical applications of sports medicine and exercise science to maintain and enhance physical performance, fitness, health, and quality of life. Members of the ACSM work in a wide range of medical specialties, allied health professions, and scientific disciplines, and are committed to the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of sports-related injuries and the advancement of the science of exercise. International, National and Regional chapter members hail from more than 80 countries around the world.

The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital Hospital in Utah, United States

The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital (TOSH) was founded in 1991 and is a 100,000-square-foot (9,300 m2) facility located in Murray, Utah, United States, at the former Intermountain Healthcare Cottonwood Hospital location. It includes 36 clinical patient rooms, ten surgery suites, a human performance research laboratory, a 25-meter lap pool, a full weight and exercise room, and a rehabilitation center.

The Canadian Athletic Therapists Association (CATA) is a professional body based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada which was established on April 24, 1965 at a meeting at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) promotes sports medicine education, research, communication, and fellowship and includes national and international orthopaedic sports medicine leaders. The Society works closely with many other sports medicine specialists, including athletic trainers, physical therapists, family physicians, and others to improve the identification, prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation of sports injuries. Formed in 1972 as a forum for education and research with 100 members, the AOSSM today has to more than 2,000 members.

Orthopedic Sports Medicine is a subspecialty of orthopedic medicine and sports medicine. The word orthopaedic derives from “ortho” which is the Greek root for “straight” and “pais” which is the Greek root for child. During the early history of orthopaedic medicine, orthopaedists used braces, among other things, to make a child “straight.”

UPMC Rooney Sports Complex Multi-sport training facility

The UPMC Rooney Sports Complex is a multipurpose, multisport training, sports science, and sports medical complex of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The complex is located along the shore of the Monongahela River in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and is unique in that it is the only facility in the United States housing the practice and training facilities for both a collegiate NCAA football team and a professional National Football League team, the University of Pittsburgh Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers respectively. It is also unique in that it combines these training facilities in one location with an academically based sports science and medicine program. The complex consists of four centers which include the Center for Sports Medicine, Sports Training Center, Indoor Training Center, and the Fitness and Conditioning Center located in three buildings along with four outdoor practice fields all situated on 40 acres (16 ha) of land. The UPMC Center for Sports Medicine located in the complex is an international destination for amateur and professional athletes alike for its training, medical, and rehabilitation studies and services.

Hospice and palliative medicine is a formal subspecialty of medicine in the United States that focuses on symptom management, relief of suffering and end-of-life care.

Australasian College of Sport and Exercise Physicians

The Australasian College of Sport and Exercise Physicians (ACSEP) is a not-for-profit professional organisation responsible for training, educating, and representing over 350 doctors in Australia and New Zealand. These doctors practise medicine in the specialty of sport and exercise medicine (SEM). The ACSEP is the smallest of the 15 recognised specialist medical Colleges in Australia with approximately 260 Fellows and Registrars in 2020.

The Faculty of Sport & Exercise Medicine (FSEM) (UK) is a not-for-profit professional organisation responsible for training, educating, and representing over 500 doctors in the United Kingdom. These doctors practise medicine in the specialty of Sport & Exercise Medicine (SEM). The FSEM is housed in the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh, but is an intercollegiate faculty of the Royal Colleges of Physicians and RCSEd

Sports cardiology

Sports cardiology is an emerging subspecialty field of Cardiology. It may also be considered a subspecialty field of Sports medicine, or alternatively a hybrid subspecialty that spans cardiology and sports medicine. Emergency medicine is another medical specialty that has some overlap with Sports Cardiology. Sports cardiology is now considered to be a distinct subspecialty in Europe and the USA, with a core curriculum developed in both regions. In Europe it has traditionally been grouped under Preventive Cardiology, but the subspecialty of Sports Cardiology is now considered a distinct field. In the USA, it has developed from being a special interest area to a distinct subspecialty as well.

The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) is a large sports medicine membership organization, representing over 3000 physicians in the United States, established in 1991. AMSSM includes members who serve as team physicians at the youth level, NCAA, NFL, MLB, NBA, WNBA, MLS, and NHL, as well as with Olympic and Paralympic teams.


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Further reading