What Is a Sports Physical?

Athletes undergo sports physicals to ensure they are healthy enough to participate in athletic activity.
Doctors typically perform a full exam during a sports physical.
To join sports teams, an athlete must sometimes undergo a sports physical to ensure he is healthy enough for the activity.
A sports physical can include checking the throat, ears and nose for abnormalities.
The doctor will perform a heart and lung check during a sports physical exam.
A person's blood pressure will be taken during a sports physical.
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  • Written By: Nat Robinson
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2014
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A sports physical is given to ensure that an individual is healthy enough to take part in a sports-related activity. The physical is generally composed of a variety of medical tests. In most cases, an individual will be required to pass a sports physical to be permitted to play a sport. A person may have to make an appointment to get a physical done by his or her personal doctor, although in some cases, the party requesting the physical may have someone available to perform the examination on site.

Generally, a sports physical will begin by the doctor taking a medical history on the person. He or she may be asked about any past injuries, illnesses and surgeries. The doctor may take particular interest in any past injury that was sports-related. As part of taking a medical history, the person will commonly be asked about any prescription medication currently or previously taken. This can be important because some medicines may require a person to avoid strenuous activities.

Next, the physician may obtain various bits of generic information about the person. This may include taking the person's blood pressure and obtaining a weight and height measurement. Weight can be an essential element that can potentially qualify or disqualify a person to compete in sports. The height may also be relevant to ensure that it is of a healthy proportion to the weight. Sometimes, limb measurements are also obtained as part of a sports physical.


After these preliminaries, a physical exam will generally be the next part. During the physical examination, the doctor will typically perform a heart check and a lung check. This generally entails the doctor listening to these body parts using a stethoscope. In some cases, an electrocardiogram (EKG) may be included in the heart check. The doctor may also perform an eyesight check and inspect the ears, nose and throat for any abnormalities.

In most cases, an individual will undergo this type of physical for sports. It is important to ensure that athletes are healthy enough to assume the position they will be required to play. Whether it be a school sports physical or one for professional sports, athletes of varying calibers are generally required to have an examination declaring his or her good health. If for some reason a person is injured or falls ill while playing a sport, the record of a sports physical may be important in judging the liability of the person in charge of the activity.


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