Understanding the Importance of Sports Physicals After Testing Positive for COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, people are learning how to safely participate in a variety of activities. That includes playing sports. However, the virus continues to spread through a large percentage of the population. This means that many athletes will contract COVID-19 at some point. The virus affects individuals at all levels from professional leagues to Little League.

While we are gaining a better understanding of the virus and its effects, there are plenty of stories about people who develop problems with their heart and/or lungs following a bout with COVID-19. For athletes, this can be a serious, even fatal, issue. Those who aim to return to vigorous activities will benefit from a sports physical to confirm that their body is ready to go and free from any complications.

What are the Risks of Returning to Sports After Having COVID-19?

Fortunately, the majority of healthy athletes who are infected with COVID-19 only deal with mild to moderate symptoms. Severe cases and hospitalization are rare among this demographic. However, that doesn’t mean athletes have nothing to worry about.

Studies have shown that the COVID-19 virus can damage the heart and cause an inflammatory condition known as myocarditis. While other viral infections can also affect the heart, COVID-19 appears to do so more frequently. Myocarditis can cause sudden death among otherwise healthy patients during exercise.

As such, returning to sports after a COVID-19 infection can be risky for those that aren’t cleared by a physician.

Another issue is conditioning. Athletes who sit out for 10 to 14 days while dealing with a COVID-19 infection aren’t ready to jump back into action right away. Doing so without a gradual increase in conditioning can lead to injuries due to poor form and increased strain on the muscles and joints.

When Can I Resume Sports After Having COVID-19?

The timeline for returning to sports after a COVID-19 infection varies depending on how severe the infection is. However, some general guidelines are widely applicable.

For children, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that anyone infected with COVID-19—regardless of their symptoms—sit out for a minimum of 10 days. Moreover, children should be asymptomatic without fever-reducing medications for at least 24 hours before returning to sports activities and all children should be cleared by their pediatrician.

The AAP recommends that children with severe symptoms or multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) sit out for three to six months and receive clearance from a pediatrician or cardiologist before returning. The child should also undergo cardiac testing, such as an EKG or echocardiogram, and have normal results.

Finally, the AAP recommends that athletes return to sports activities gradually over seven days. This helps decrease the risk of injury and gives the body time to readjust.

What is Included in a Sports Physical?

Following a COVID-19 infection, the best way to ensure that it’s safe to return to sports is to come in for a physical. Sports physicals are typically required for children of all ages who are participating in organized leagues or playing on school teams. While a physical is usually good for a year, it is a smart idea to have another one after dealing with COVID-19.

During a sports physical, the provider will check your vital signs, document your height and weight, and review your medical history. The latter is used to help identify conditions that may be handed down from a parent and to help determine if you are at increased risk for things like heart disease or diabetes.

Next, the provider will perform a thorough physical exam of the heart, lungs, abdomen, and joints to determine if there are any issues. This helps rule out problems like asthma, hernias, heart issues, and joint injuries.

If there are no abnormal findings, the provider will offer recommendations on how to stay healthy throughout the upcoming season and send you home with a letter stating that you’re cleared to participate. If something is wrong, the provider will examine it more thoroughly and can recommend treatments or a follow-up exam.

A post-COVID-19 sports physical puts extra emphasis on the heart and lungs. The provider will ask questions about chest pain, fatigue, fainting, irregular heartbeat, and shortness of breath. If something appears abnormal, they may order an echocardiogram or EKG to investigate.

Velocity Urgent Care is Ready to Get You Back on the Field

With the spring season ready to swing into gear, now is the perfect time to come in for a sports physical. If you have been infected by COVID-19 and want to return to sports, a physical can put your mind at ease and ensure that it is safe to do so.

Velocity Urgent Care offers convenient hours to accommodate busy families and athletes of all ages. You can simply walk-in and one of our friendly, board-certified providers will take you through the process.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are taking serious safety precautions to ensure that our locations are as clean as possible. We’ve put strict sterilization protocols into place and are carefully handling patients who may be contagious to ensure that each one of our clinics is safe for those who need urgent medical care or wellness screenings.

Velocity Urgent Care offers convenient online registration that helps you limit your contact with others during a visit. You can sign up for an appointment online ahead of time and arrive when it’s time to be seen to skip the waiting room. We even offer text message updates so you can wait in the car (if you prefer) until it’s time for your appointment.

Velocity Urgent Care is an in-network provider for most major insurance plans, meaning you can be seen for the cost of your co-pay and deductible. All of our locations also accept Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare. Veterans Administration beneficiaries are also welcome.

To find out more about our services, locations, hours, and more, visit www.velocityuc.com.