This stackexchange site frequently closes questions because people are asking questions that require a qualified medical practitioner.

Recently, I have my own question that I think falls into that category. I've spoken to my general practitioner doctor and it's clear she's not a sports medicine doctor. She would much rather have me tone down my ambition rather than help me push.

Between physical therapists, sports medicine doctors, and whatever else is out there, what should I look for and how should I go about finding a good sports medicine practitioner?

I have my fitness goals, I want to pursue them, and I need a medical practitioner in my corner that has experience with people pushing their bodies hard in a safe way. Will any spots medicine doctor do? Are there things I should ask or look out for?

  • 1
    My best suggestion is to take this question to chat. But to answer: Try a few sports docs, ask for recommendations, look for sports docs who treat a lot of people in your sport (or "people like you" if it's lifting). Degree of pushiness back to activity is a thing you can figure out with a few roundabout questions like "what happens after that", "what if that treatment fails" or "what's the timeframe to get back to doing X". Apr 19, 2015 at 4:38
  • @DaveLiepmann thanks. I'm in a rather sports-centric west coast city with several pro teams so there are a lot of sports medicine people around but I honestly didn't know where to start beyond yelp/google. Taking training seriously it seemed a little silly to use the equivalent of bro science for picking a provider.
    – Eric
    Apr 20, 2015 at 15:49
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    And regarding the close votes, we frequently tell people on here to "contact a qualified medical provider", but based on the single (good) answer I've gotten it doesn't seem like there's a lot of knowledge around what that rather empty phrase even means. Are we really helping people or just closing questions?
    – Eric
    Apr 20, 2015 at 15:50

1 Answer 1


If you live in an area where you have a choice here are some considerations to help you decide who you want to see.

  • Certification - Look for an orthopedic physician certified in the sports medicine subspecialty and check to see that their certification is current. In the U.S. sports certified physical therapists will have SCS initials after their name.
  • Recommendation - You should be able to find several people within your sport or activity who are happy with their doctor or therapist. Often when you have a type of pain or an injury, it is very common for several people around you to mention that they've had the same thing, what they did to fix it and who they saw. Online physician reviews are also available.
  • Calling different clinics with specific questions will help you hone in on the practitioner that seems to have what you are looking for. If the practitioner takes care of a team or participates in your sport, they are more likely to understand your goals better. Find someone who specializes in your body part that needs attention.
  • Expectations - Ask your practitioner if your expectations are within the tissue healing time parameters. For example, it takes bone a specific time to start healing and it will take that long whether or not your motivated to heal faster. Different tissues have their own time frames for healing. Most of us aren't making the big bucks that professional athletes make, so taking a little longer to heal well keeps our bodies healthier as we age.
  • Sports Massage - In addition to your sports medicine doc and your sports physical therapist you may also want to consider an experienced sports massage therapist who works with athletes.

Hope that gives you some ideas of how to find the practitioners who can help you meet your fitness goals.

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