Sports physicals

How to prepare for a healthy and active school year

08/13/18 Healthy living

Part of playing a sport is taking care of your body, especially for young athletes whose muscles are still developing. Since sports are a leading cause of injuries for children and adolescents, sports physicals aren’t just a box to check off before school starts—seeing a primary care physician for a sports physical will help your kid play smarter and safer for the whole year.

So, what can you expect from your physician?

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Status update

Think of the first part of a physical like getting an oil change—you may be able to do some of these things, like checking your height and weight, at home, but when you talk to a professional they can give you perspective on what those things mean and how they could affect your lifestyle. For young athletes, numbers like height, weight, BMI, blood pressure and pulse can have a big impact on how they train, and a physician can give you the guidance you need to make an informed plan.

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Preventing overuse

Kids are very active, and that is doubly true for young athletes. Although young people’s bodies are still very resilient, weekly practice, games, travel, and training can take a toll on the body. During a sports physical, a physician will check common problem areas like knees, elbows, shoulders, wrists, the spine, and vision. While it’s usually obvious when an injury occurs in these areas, overuse injuries are the most common and can sneak up on athletes over time. 

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Checking vitals

Outside of overuse injuries, being proactive and checking vital organs can help give you peace of mind. A physician will check the lungs, heart, ears, nose, and lymph nodes, identifying anything that’s a concern or needs to be monitored. This is especially important when trying to prevent illnesses like mono that could potentially be dangerous if left undiscovered. While issues with these organs are rare, identifying anything troublesome as early as possible greatly helps with treatment and recovery. 

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Play smarter

We often preach safe practices within sports—no checking from behind in hockey, no dangerous slide tackles in soccer, and no leading with your head in football. We encourage our kids to wear a mouthguard and helmet. But, where we often fall short is encouraging them to take care of their bodies outside of the game.

A sports physical can help serve as the foundation for a healthy future full of injury-free competition. That’s where a primary care physician can make a difference. Rather than seeing an urgent care clinic, a physician can use prior visits and family history to create a plan for keeping your child healthy and active the entire school year and beyond. 

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