If your child wants to participate in interscholastic spring sports, he or she will need a physical exam before try-outs. Most seasons start in March, so it’s critical to get physicals done now to avoid not being able to compete in try-outs. Even if your child had a sports physical this past fall, there is a good chance that they will still need to get a new one in order to be eligible to compete.
When are Physicals Needed?
Physicals, or pre-participation physical exams, are typically required when your child wants to participate in sports, either through school or a local recreation league. They are also needed if your child is entering a new school district – or attending school for the first time. Regardless of the reason, a physical is the first step in ensuring that your child is healthy and ready for intense physical activity.
Why are Physicals Required?
Research suggests that over 38 million children play some type of sport every year. Sports are a wonderful way for children to get exercise and socially interact with peers. Whether your child plays tennis, football, baseball, or soccer, there’s always a chance that they could get hurt. Physicals are required to certify that children are healthy enough to participate in a physical activity without harming themselves.
They are used to try to avoid problems like:
- Asthma attacks
- Allergic reactions
- Complications due to diabetes, epilepsy, or heart conditions
- Strains and sprains
What Happens During the Physical?
During the sports physical, the clinician will first go over your child’s medical history. Prior injuries or chronic diseases will be discussed, and the doctor will also want to talk about any illnesses or diseases that run in your family. He or she will go over any medications that your child is on, and whether or not your child has ever fainted, felt dizzy, or had pain in their chest while participating in a physical activity.
After the medical history is complete, the doctor will perform the physical exam to look at your child’s fitness. The doctor will check your child’s vitals and make sure that they are within an acceptable range. He or she will also note growth spurts, which can place added stress on joints, muscles, and bones. The goal is to conclude whether or not your child can safely participate in any physical activities.
The doctor will:
- Measure your child’s height and weight
- Check their pulse and blood pressure
- Listen to your child’s heart and lungs
- Inspect their throat, nose, and ears
- Test their eyesight
- Monitor your child’s reflexes
Where to Get Sports Physicals
There are many options for getting your child’s physical. Check with your:
- Pediatrician’s office – Most pediatricians are happy to perform physicals for their existing patients. Just make sure that your doctor hasn’t set a cut-off date for getting one done this spring! Many doctors set a date so that they can complete paperwork in time for the spring sports season.
- Child’s school – You can check with your school district to see if your child can obtain their physical through the school nurse or an event sponsored by the athletic office. Many schools offer sports-physical days, where they invite healthcare providers to come in and complete the exams inside the school for a small fee. Check your school website for details. It should also have information on the sports physical requirements and have downloadable forms to expedite the process.
- Local urgent care or clinic – If your child can’t get their physical through the school, another option is to visit your local urgent care center or clinic. You usually don’t need an appointment and can get your physical completed fairly quickly.
A Good Start to Every Sports Season
Having your child participate in organized sports is excellent for them both socially and physically – but there are also risks. Sports physicals can reduce the possibility of injuries by identifying potential vulnerabilities before they occur. It is also important to talk to your child before their sports physical so that he or she will know what to expect. Some children may be nervous about getting their first exam, and soothing their fears will go a long way towards ensuring a positive experience. Let your child’s sports career start off on the right foot by scheduling their spring physical today!