What Happens During a Sports Physical?

March 18, 2022

What Happens During A Sports Physical?

Every year it is recommended for patients to get an annual physical. Physicals are medical checkups that ensure the patient is healthy and can help diagnose any developing conditions or risks. Similar to this, before participating in sports, athletes must complete a sports physical. While they are both medical examinations, they are not the same, and both should be performed when the time presents itself.  

Pre-Sports Physical 

Pre-sports physicals are for the safety of the athlete. The medical provider checks the athlete's physical condition and ensures that there is nothing out of the ordinary. These physicals can identify problems before they occur and prevent an unexpected issue during a sporting activity.

Requirements For Providers

Sports physicals must take place for students to participate in sports. Therefore they must be officially performed by certain medical personnel. When scheduling a sports physical to determine students' eligibility ensure the professional is one of the following: a Doctor of Chiropractic, Registered Nurse recognized to be an Advanced Practice Nurse by the Board of Nurse Examiners, Physician Assistant licensed by the Physician Assistant Examiners or a Physician.


Where Can Physicals Be Done?

Sports physicals can occur at a primary care physician, urgent care, sports medicine provider, or chiropractor. There are also mass physicals where many students come into a large facility to receive their sports physicals from a group of professionals all in one day. Primary care doctors are more personal and have a history with patients, so it is a good choice for the best care. Urgent care facilities offer quick and convenient physicals at a more affordable price. Mass physicals may require a lengthy in-person waiting period due to the size of the group but are likely inexpensive or free of charge. All of these options should be considered when scheduling a sports physical. It is beneficial to try and have the same provider perform a sports physical every year, though for better consistency. The same provider can compare last year's exam records for a more thorough analysis and diagnosis. If this is not possible, it is still beneficial to have a medical professional perform a physical at least once a year and before sports activities begin. 

What To Expect

During a sports physical, the healthcare professional will examine the potential athlete in person and review their records or ask questions about their history. This exam aims to accurately confirm the patient's eligibility to compete in a sport without possible health risk from a pre-existing or preventable condition. Standard sports physicals include a cardiac screening, a musculoskeletal exam,  a vision exam, and an assessment of height and weight. An average sports physical should last around 30 minutes. 

Is It The Same As An Annual Physical?

While a sports physical is a good medical check-in for youths, it is not the same or a substitute for an annual physical. Sports physicals are specifically performed annually before any school sports activities to ensure students are ready to play. Children should still be visiting a healthcare professional for an additional annual physical to maintain their health and prevent possible health conditions.

Urgent Care Can Help

Contact a local urgent care and book an appointment today to get an annual physical or sports physical. Urgent care professionals can provide fast and convenient examinations at affordable pricing. Stay up to date with your physicals to help prevent serious health issues from arriving unexpectedly.

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