Does my child really need a sports physical?
It’s a question we hear often. And the short answer is, “yes, they do.” But it’s not just for T-Ball or Little League or Youth Soccer! Regardless of their sport, your child should have a sports physical. And here’s why.
What is a Sports Physical?
Known in the medical field as a pre-participation physical examination (PPE), a sports physical helps determine if a child can safely participate in a sport.
What Happens During a Sports Physical?
As we mentioned earlier, a sports physical includes many exams done during a regular physical. We’ll check pulse and blood pressure as well as weight and height. These last two elements are essential to have measured regularly, as growth spurts and weight changes can add stress to joints, muscles, and bones.
A sports physical also includes an eye exam to check that your pint-size athlete needs corrective lenses or changes to existing prescription lenses.
We’ll also review your child’s medical history. It’s important you come to the appointment with a list of any past or recent illnesses, surgeries, or conditions such as asthma or chest pains. This information will help us identify potential problems that may require further testing, referrals, or even activity restrictions to prevent future complications.
And last but certainly not least, a sports physical includes a fitness check, which is a thorough physical exam including the heart, lungs, and abdomen to make sure your child doesn’t have any physical limitations, like uncontrolled asthma, recent surgeries, or a hernia that might affect their ability to play safely. We’ll also check your child’s strength, flexibility, posture, and joints, to identify any areas prone to injury. And we’ll share exercises to help your child warm-up before practice or play and avoid injury.
It’s important to note that many schools and sports organizations require a sports physical before your child can participate, and some may require a physical only once a year, while others need one more frequently. As rules and requirements vary, check for a sports physical form that may be sent home with your child or may be available online, too.
If there is a medical concern like uncontrolled asthma, an undiagnosed heart murmur, or a hernia, your child will not pass their physical. We will work with their pediatrician or primary care to ensure your child’s health and safety.
Parents need to reassure their child that a sports physical is part of being a good athlete and not a deterrent from playing. Making a sports physical a part of their regular care regime will help ensure that your little Venus Williams, Mia Hamm, Max Scherzer, or Matthew Stafford can participate at their very best.