What is a Sports Physical and Who Needs One?

Playing sports on a school or community team offers an excellent way for kids and teens to learn about teamwork and stay in shape. Of course, no matter what sport your child plays, there’s always the risk of an injury. To prevent getting sick or hurt on the track, court, or field, kids need to be appropriately prepared, and part of preparing for sports is having a sports physical done to ensure they’re healthy for the season ahead and to ensure there are no medical problems that require more attention. Many states (and schools) require your child to have a sports physical before starting each season, but even if it’s not a requirement in your state, it’s still wise to have your child get one each year before they participate in sports.

What is a sports physical?

Often referred to as pre-participation physical examination, a sports physical is a specific type of check-up conducted to determine where your child is healthy enough to participate in their sport of choice. It differs from a routine physical in that it specifically looks for injuries and disease that could make it unsafe for your child to participate in a sport by reviewing not only the child’s medical history but also the family’s medical history.

What should you expect from a sports physical?

A sports physical includes two parts: a medical history and a physical exam.

The medical history will involve the physician asking questions, such as:

  • Do you have or have you had any illnesses, such as epilepsy, asthma, or diabetes?
  • Do any of your family members have serious medical problems?
  • Do you have any allergies?
  • Have you had any previous surgeries or hospitalizations?
  • Have you ever had chest pain, felt dizzy, had difficulty breathing, or passed out while exercising?
  • Do you take any medications? (this includes supplements and over-the-counter medications)

After the medical history, a physical exam will be done. The physical exam will generally include:

  • Blood pressure check and pulse rate
  • Measuring weight and height
  • Testing your child’s vision
  • An examination of neurological functions such as strength, coordination, and reflexes
  • Checking the lungs, heart, ears, nose, throat, and abdomen
  • Looking at spinal alignment, posture, mobility, and joint flexibility

Why are sports physicals so critical?

A sports physical is critical because it can uncover any health problems that may interfere with participation in sports. Your physician can help you deal with those problems to improve your ability to participate in the sport. For example, kids with asthma may be prescribed a different inhaler dosage or another type of inhaler to make breathing easier if your child will be doing a significant amount of running.

The physician doing the sports physical may also have some tips and ideas for training and preventing sports injuries. Doctors can also identify risk factors linked to individual sports, and this advice can make your child a stronger, better athlete.

Who needs a sports physical?

Kids and teens who are going to participate in school or community sports should have a sports physical, even if they aren’t required by your state. It’s usually a good idea to have the physical done about six weeks before kids begin participating in the sport. This gives you plenty of time in case any issues need to be addressed before your child can play.

Just like professional sports players require medical care so they can play their best, your child needs the supervision of a medical professional to ensure they can play their best game, too. At Warner Plaza Urgent Care, we provide sports physicals by appointment or for walk-ins, and we’ll work with you and your child to ensure they stay healthy and safe when they’re out playing they sport the love. Simply walk in today or call Warner Plaza to set up an appointment for your child’s sports physical.