If Your Child Is an Athlete, They Should Have a Sports Physical

School is here, and that means it’s time for lots of sports. Whether your child participates on a team in school or in the community, you want to be sure he or she is properly prepared. Of course, you have to make sure you get your child the right uniform and athletic gear. But being prepared also means making sure he or she is healthy, fit, and ready for physical activity.

Why sports physicals are important

Sports physicals are important for all athletes, no matter what age they are, what sport they play, or whether they had one earlier or for another sport. Every time your child signs up for a new sport, he or she should have a physical to make sure he or she is healthy enough for normal play and competition. That means if your child signs up for soccer in the fall, he or she should still have a physical before running track in the spring. That’s because kids and teens are still growing and their physical and health needs can change quickly. Even if they were fine for sports in the fall, they might have an issue that needs tending before they’ll be ready to head out again in the spring. 

What’s more, the physical requirements can vary a lot from one sport to another. So even though your child might be in great shape for the demands of basketball, he or she might not be quite ready to start pitching fast balls in the spring. Plus, if your child participates in multiple sports, he or she can develop subtle injuries that might not become apparent until the new season begins. Having physicals in between those seasons is a good way to catch those issues early, before they turn into major problems. And it's also a good way to prevent injuries that could wind up sidelining your child for a season or more.

What's involved in a sports physical?

There are two main components of a sports physical. During the first part of the exam, the doctor will review your child’s complete medical history, and they’ll also ask about previous injuries or serious illnesses, existing illnesses or medical problems, any physical limitations or learning disabilities your child might have, and any medications or treatments your child may be undergoing. You’ll also be asked about family medical conditions, like diabetes or heart issues.

The second part of the visit focuses on the physical exam. In addition to checking your child’s height, weight, and blood pressure, the doctor will listen to their lungs and heart, gently palpate their belly to check for swelling or pain, and look inside their ears and their throat. Many of these evaluations are the same as the examinations performed during a regular physical. But for a sports physical, the exam also evaluates your child’s strength and flexibility. That means making sure their joints move normally and without pain, that they have good posture, and that they have normal muscle strength for their age and size. Finally, we may talk to your child about the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs, including steroids, and we’ll also provide you and your child with diet and exercise guidance to help your child stay in top shape, during sports season and beyond.

At the end of the exam, if there are any concerns about your child's health, we may recommend follow-up with a specialist. Otherwise, we'll fill out the paperwork so it's ready to be submitted to your child's team for review.

Keep your child healthy and safe

At Penguin Pediatrics PLLC, we offer comprehensive sports physicals tailored to the needs of the athlete and the requirements of the sport. That means when your child suits up and heads out, you can feel confident that he or she is ready to do his or her best and enjoy the game. Even if your child’s team doesn’t require a sports physical, it’s still important to have one for their own safety, health, and well-being. Scheduling a sports physical a few weeks before play begins is ideal since it gives us time to correct or treat underlying issues that might otherwise limit or even prohibit their participation. If your child is planning to play a sport this school year, avoid delays and book an appointment online today.

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