What is a Sports Physical?

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  • Written By: Nat Robinson
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2019
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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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Post 3

I coached a rec league basketball team last year. My kids were 11 and 12 years old. One day while they were running wind sprints, one of my players stopped because he was having trouble breathing. He couldn't catch his breath.

I later learned that he has asthma. This was a really scary moment. I know all of the kids were required to have sports physicals before they joined a team, but no one had mentioned to me that I had a player who suffered from asthma.

Post 2

After some of the more publicized deaths of college, high school and professional athletes during the last few years, I wonder whether sports physicals are thorough enough. I know most, if not all, of the professional athletes go through a long list of tests and examinations to determine their physical health, but this isn't so with most college and high school athletes.

I know the number of people passing out during games and competitions is very low, especially when you think about all of the boys and girls and men and women who play sports, but I still wonder are we doing enough to protect amateur athletes.

Post 1

I am pleased to read that the sports physicals today are more detailed than they were when I was in school. I was in the fifth grade when I played my first year of organized football on the school team.

When the coached told us in practice on the first day that we had to have a school sports physicals and signed forms from the doctor saying we were healthy enough to play football I was nervous. My mind was racing with all of the possible things the doctor might have to do to me to make sure I was in good enough shape to play football, and what if I didn't pass?

I don't remember all that

the doctor did during the examinations, but it wasn't much, and I was out of his office with a signed permission slip in no more than five minutes. It's a good thing there was nothing major wrong with me because I don't think his examination would have discovered the problem.

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