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Sport Physical FAQs

What is a sports physical?

A sports physical is an examination to determine if a child/teen (or adult) is physically able to safely participate in a certain sport.

Who needs a sports physical?

For student athletes, most states require a completed sports physical before participating in any school-sanctioned sport. In addition, athletes playing in non-school related sports, such as club or recreational teams, may also be required to pass a sports physical before they’re eligible to participate. While adults are not typically required to get a sports physical before participating in recreational sports, it is certainly recommended and should be considered before starting any new exercise/workout program.

Why are sports physicals necessary?

A sports physical can help uncover any health problems that might interfere with your participation in a sport as well as noticing potential risk factors that are linked to specific sports. In addition, your physician may offer some training tips (strengthening and stretching exercises) that could aid in avoiding injury. According to the CDC, more than 2.6 million children under 19 years old are treated in the emergency department each year for sports and recreation-related injuries.

Even if your sports physical doesn't reveal any problems, it is still wise to monitor yourself when you play sports. If you notice changes in your physical condition — even small changes such as shortness of breath or sudden pain, be sure to mention them to a parent or coach.

What to expect during a sports physical?

During the exam, the physician will record weight/height, take your blood pressure and pulse, examine the strength and flexibility of your joints. They will also listen to your heart and lungs and perform any other tests they deem necessary based on the sport/activity. A very important part of your sports physical will be to assess your medical/family history. Medications you are taking as well as the history of injuries and illnesses for you and your family will help to uncover any conditions that you may have.

Where can I get a sports physical?

Your pediatrician or regular healthcare provider can always perform a sports physical. But if your schedule has you strapped for time (and sports practices are about to start), we are here to help. Visit your local American Family Care and let us help you mark the sport physical off your to-do list.

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