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Playing sports is a great way to stay physically and mentally fit, but just as important, sports activities provide a way to socialize, learn teamwork and meet new people. Below we explain the importance of getting a sports physical at the start of your sports season.
What to know before your visit:
A sports physical exam is also called a pre-participation physical examination (PPE). The exam assists in determining whether it is safe for you to participate in a certain sporting activity. Children and teens are required (in most states) to get a sports physical before they can start a new sport or prior to beginning a new season. However, even if a sports physical isn’t required, doctors still strongly advise obtaining one.
There are two major parts to a sports physical:
This part of the exam covers:
It is very important that a parent or guardian is available to help answer the medical history questions as many children may not know or remember their entire individual or family’s medical history. Most health care professionals agree that medical history is the most important aspect of the sports physical examination.
After the medical history portion of the exam, the physician or health care provider will usually perform the following:
The majority of the physical exam will be identical for both females and males. However, the doctor may ask different questions depending if the individual has started or gone through puberty.
The medical provider will additionally ask about any use of drugs, alcohol, or dietary supplements. This may include questions regarding the use of weight-loss supplements, steroids and/or other performance enhancers since these can impact an individual’s health.
During the sports physical, the medical provider looks for any diseases or injuries that could make it unsafe for a person to participate by reviewing the family’s medical history and ensuring additional tests are performed if necessary. For instance, if you have asthma, a medical professional may suggest a different inhaler or adjust the dosage depending on the sport you are playing and/or your position. Your doctor may also have some training suggestions for preventing injuries. For instance, they might suggest particular stretching or strengthening exercises that help protect against injuries.
Getting an annual sports physical is usually sufficient. You should try to have your sports physical done six to eight weeks before your season starts. That way, if the medical provider needs to treat a condition, refer you to a specialist, or do a follow-up exam, there will be enough time before your sports season begins to be cleared to play. Nobody will be happy if your sports physical is the day before sports practice starts and something comes up that needs to be addressed before you can suit up.
After finishing the exam, the provider will usually complete and sign the sports physical exam form, but sometimes they may request additional testing, a follow-up examination, or recommend treatment for any medical issues discovered during the exam. It is also possible the health care provider might recommend certain modifications:
The great majority health concerns won’t prevent kids from participating in sports, but occasionally they may need treatment and a follow-up exam in order to play.
Finally, remember that even if you have a sports physical every season, if it is not a complete physical exam, you should still receive a comprehensive health exam annually.
Yes! AFC offers a wide range of preventive services including vaccinations. And if you or a family member is hurt playing sports, our urgent care service is unrivaled.
We work hard to keep wait times to a minimum, and many people can be in and out of our clinics within 30 minutes.
You can stop into any AFC, any time. Check out our list of locations to find the one nearest you.