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What Are Sports Physicals and Why Do You Need Them?

Nov 08, 2022

Urgent Care

Sports and Physicals

If you are planning to participate in sports, sports physicals are recommended and often required to ensure you are physically healthy and ready for the activity.

Also known as pre-participation physical evaluation (PPE), sports physicals help determine whether you are physically fit to safely play a sport. Getting a sports physical before participating in any new sport or if you are already active in any sports is recommended.

What Does a Sports Physical Include?

A sports physical will cover:

Medical History Review

Your doctor will review your medical history to learn about:

     Health issues present in your family

     Pre-existing conditions, such as COVID-19, diabetes, asthma, etc.

     Previous instances of dizziness or breathing issues

     Past injuries (sprains, fractures, etc.) and allergies (due to insect bites or medications)

     Current medications

     Previous surgeries or medical procedures

     The usage of diet pills or performance-boosting supplements, including steroids

Physical Examination

During the physical exam, your height, weight, heart rate, blood pressure, and pulse rate will be measured.

The doctor will also examine your:


     Heart and lungs

     Bones, joints, and muscles

Are Sports Physicals Required?

Yes!  While assessing your physical fitness, a sports physical also includes diagnosing and treating for the existing health conditions you may have that can adversely affect your performance or make you vulnerable to injuries. For example, if you have asthma, your doctor may adjust your medications to help you breathe better when playing sports like football, basketball, or hockey (that includes frequent running). They may also recommend lifestyle changes and exercises or physical therapy to maintain your health and physical fitness while avoiding injuries.

When Should I Schedule a Sports Physical?

You must take a sports physical exam at least 6 weeks before participating in the sport. This will give you enough time to get proper treatment and care if you are diagnosed with any disease or infection. Taking a sports physical exam at least once a year is recommended.

Where Do I Need to Go for a Sports Physical?

You can take a sports physical exam at:

     Your doctor’s office

     School events (some schools may offer sports physicals during any special event/occasion)

     Urgent care center

What to Do If I Am Diagnosed with a Health Issue?

If your sports physical results indicate no health issues, the doctor will just sign the form stating that you are fit enough to play the sport.

If your results indicate any health issues, the doctor may:

     Prescribe or adjust medications

     Schedule a follow-up visit for further diagnosis

     Recommend physical therapy or other treatment

Even if the doctor tells you that (based on your test results) you cannot play a sport, it does not mean that you won’t be able to play any sport in the future.

For example, if you have had frequent episodes of asthma or concussion, you cannot play football or basketball (that includes more physical movement), but you can play tennis (it includes less physical movement).

Is an Annual Physical Still Important?

A sports physical exam helps determine whether playing a particular sport is safe for your health. However, an annual physical exam will monitor your overall health and wellness while measuring your vitals and assessing your body using techniques such as:

        Percussion – checks for fractures in lower extremities

        Observation – examines eyes, nose, ears, throat, and other parts for symptoms

        Auscultation- involves listening to sounds from the heart, lungs, and other organs through a stethoscope

FAQs on Sports Physicals

  1.  Can sports physical results be used for school physicals?

No! School physicals may require additional information about your overall health and vaccination status, so you may need to undergo additional tests as part of school physicals.

  1. Who should get sports physicals?

Children and adults should get a physical exam done before participating in any sport to make sure they are healthy enough to do so.

  1. What are the documents I need to bring for sports physicals?

Ensure to bring the following documents for your sports physicals:

     A valid identification card

     A sports physical form with complete details (you can download the form from your state’s athletic association website)

     A list containing details about your past surgeries, existing health conditions, and current medications

  1.  How long are my sports physicals valid?

Sports physicals are generally valid for one year. However, some states require every individual to get a sports physical exam before every sports season, whether they fall once or twice a year.

Get a Same-Day Sports Physical at Metro Urgent Care

If you are looking for a quick and convenient  sports physical exam near you, contact us today at Metro Urgent Care or walk into our clinic in Chicago, IL. We have experienced and certified providers to perform sports physicals with all-round care and safety.

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