The medical exam for competitive sports

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At the basis of healthy cycling, as for all competitive sports, lies an activity which does our body good and protects our health. A sports physical, carried out by qualified personnel, ensures just this and should be the first step before starting cycling.

The Sports Medicine specialist is the doctor who makes sure physical activity can take place in good health and who performs a clinical and functional assessment before issuing a certificate of fitness to practice competitive sports. Intense physical activity carried out for a prolonged time can cause injuries if managed in a thoughtless and approximative manner. The sports physical aims to prevent the onset of these possible damages through specific diagnostic tests. It also can identify early on any diseases, especially cardiovascular, which could rule such physical activity. 

Looking more closely, we can identify four main objectives of a medical exam for competitive sports:

  • Examine the general health of the athlete and identify any possible risk factors and conditions which could limit or exclude the practice of the competitive sport in question.
  • Verify the existence of any conditions which could lead to injuries or put the athlete in danger in relation to the specific athletic discipline.
  • Provide a legal and medical certification.
  • Provide information on the possible diagnostic steps and treatment for any problems found during the visit.

Throughout Italy, sports specialists, whether working for the National Health Service or privately, must adhere to common protocols developed by CONI and other institutions, in accordance with art. 8-bis, 8-ter and 8-quinquies of the Legislative Decree no. 229/1999. These protocols consider the age of the subject, gender, body type and the risks specific to the activity the individual intends to practice. 

What happens during the first clinical and functional valuation for competitive sports?

Independently of the age of the subject and type of sport the subject intends to practice, it includes:

  • general evaluation of the clinical-pathological history and athletic history 
  • physical examination
  • EEG in rest and under stress (a step test or bicycle ergometer; this depends on the examiner)
  • spirometry test
  • complete urine exam
  • biohumoral test (to be considered for subjects over 40 and based on collected data)

In case diagnostic uncertainties arise, the specialist can consider carrying out a more detailed cardiological exam.


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