How physios working in sport can solve clinical problems with research. Practical tips.

Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Sport and Exercise Medicine blog series @PhysiosinSport

By Simon Rice

For recently graduated physiotherapists or those working in private practice, research can intimidate and appear as something that just happens behind closed laboratory doors. Often, physiotherapists working in private clinics would like to get involved in research, but think…’I don’t have time’ or ‘I don’t have money’. Do you hold the view that research is strictly for academics? If that were the case it would really limit our discipline. And remember there are many examples of physios in private and active clinical practice who have made major research contributions – Jenny McConnell is a classic example from the 1980s. Many more since then (see below).

Benefits for research project involvement range from individual to global:

  • It encourages you to read articles that relate to your interests.
  • Your name on a paper in your area of interest or specialty may help advance your career
  • Patients may have greater confidence in your ability knowing you have an active research interest in their injury area and the related treatment techniques and prognostic variables
  • Physiotherapists working day to day with athletes and non-professional activity enthusiasts, will likely orient research questions to those of practical use in the ‘real world’
  • Physiotherapists with different case loads and experience are likely to ask a higher volume and variety of research questions
  • A lot of modalities physiotherapists use on a day-to-day level are not supported by high levels of evidence. Contributing to this evidence base strengthens the community of sport and exercise professionals as a whole to ultimately improve patient care and set the discipline apart from complementary therapies with little or no evidence.
  • If you are skeptical about physio research read the articles about PEDro in the BJSM and go to the PEDro website.

Getting involved in research is often easier then people think. You don’t need to have a large volume of clinical experience before you start on a research project. Conducting a systematic review or managing a small part of an interventional study often does not impose large time pressures and can be managed well in the private sector.

Here are a couple tips to get you started:

  1. Find a research mentor. This is really important as they can walk you through the step-by-step process and mitigate the intimidation.
  2. Get involved with someone doing a systematic review in an area of interest to you.
  3. Jump on the opportunity to be a second or third author on a review as it allows you to dip your toes in the research water and get a feel for the process, while maintaining a smaller time commitment to not interfere with your clinical load.
  4. Still unsure? Some additional resources can be found here: and here:
  5. Ready to get started? Learn about grants and funding opportunities here: ( and here: Also, the CSP lists the topics that are considered priority areas:


Simon Rice is a Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist and Research Lead at Pure Sports Medicine in London. He has background working in strength and conditioning with elite athletes and has a particular interest in end stage rehabilitation and injury prevention. He is currently completing research in neuromuscular warm ups for injury prevention and the effect of maximal strength training on running economy.

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