Summer may just be heating up, but fall sports and activities will be here before you know it. That’s why now is the best time to take care of your little athlete’s sports physical. They are largely required by athletic leagues and schools − and for good reason. Sports physicals raise awareness of any issues that may interfere with your child’s ability to participate in a sport, helping you keep tabs on your child’s overall health. Your healthcare provider can identify areas that may be prone to injury and suggest tips and exercises to avoid future problems.
What to Expect
Many parents expect a physical examination, but often forget that a complete medical history is an important component of sports physicals as well. Make sure to come prepared with your child’s immunization records, if required, and any relevant information regarding previous hospitalizations or surgeries, illnesses or diseases within the family, medications, past injuries or allergies.
There are also several components to the physical examination. A standard sports physical includes an examination of your child’s vitals including blood pressure and pulse, while also documenting weight and height increases as growth spurts can place added stress on joints, muscles and bones. Your child will receive an eye exam and a fitness check of the cardiovascular system, heart, lungs, abdomen, ears, nose and throat. Your healthcare provider should also test your child’s joints and flexibility to identify areas susceptible to injury and potentially provide recommendations to avoid injury.
Why Does my Child Need a Sports Physical?
Even if your child has received a regular physical, it is important to also receive a sports physical prior to participation in sports or physical activity. General physicals and sports physicals are both important as they focus on different areas of your child’s health. Sports physicals are more targeted and specifically focus on the physical requirements needed to play a sport.
If your child had COVID-19, ensuring they receive a sports physical is even more important because the virus may cause underlying health concerns, such as cardiac issues. Clearance to return to sports will likely depend upon your child’s age, severity of their COVID-19 infection and if they have experienced any cardiac symptoms. It’s essential to discuss these risk factors and any other findings from a physical exam with your child’s medical provider.
This year, and every year, you want your athlete to have a healthy and fun sports season. So, whether you’re watching them kick, run or volley their way to victory, be sure your child first gets their annual sports physical to ensure they’re ready to go.