Sports Physicals – Why They’re Important and How They Differ from Regular Physicals

As the start of school is quickly approaching, students across the country are preparing study hard, socialize often, and participate in co-curricular activities often in the form of sports.  While people of all ages participate in sports all year round, we see an influx of patients interested in sports physicals at the beginning of the academic year, and then again come the start of Spring.  If this is the first year your student has decided to participate in school sports you may be wondering what sports physicals entail and how they differ from regular physicals.  Every good question deserves a better answer!

Sports Physicals

At a high-level view, sports physicals are a way to assess whether your student is physically fit to partake in sporting activities, and what measures need to be taken to ensure the medical wellbeing of a student while they play.  Typically done on an annual basis, these physicals tend to be scheduled for students up to six weeks before the start of their sport so that there’s plenty of time to circle back and resolve any issues that may need addressing.  Geared to assess a teen’s health and fitness, some of the routine measures involved in sports physicals typically include:

  • Measuring height and weight – often times baseline measurements of BMI and musculature density are useful to track throughout the course of a student’s athletic career.
  • Blood pressure and heart health – keeping tabs on the cardiovascular health of anyone is important, but in sports it’s particularly practical to make sure that the student will be able to handle routine fluctuations in pulse and blood pressure.
  • Vision, hearing, and breathing – vision and hearing are particularly important to keep track of if a student plays high-impact sports that put the student at risk of concussions. Monitoring respiratory health could mean the difference of suffering through asthma on the soccer field when the pollen kicks up or taking a prescription inhaler to counteract the histamine response and keep your student breathing well all of the time.
  • Musculoskeletal health – during middle school and high school students undergo major growth spurts while simultaneously experiencing the effects of puberty. Questions that the physician will ask during a sports physical will do their part in assessing bone health, nutrition, and plenty more.

Annual Physicals

While sports physicals focus more on assessing the student’s medical history and current health status to determine their fitness to participate in their particular sport, regular physicals are more involved.  A routine annual physical will touch on the items identified during a sports physical in addition to focusing on the developmental, social, and emotional aspects of health and wellness.  Routine physicals are also more likely to dive deeper into family medical history than a sports physical would.  Moreover, routine physicals may include lab work and immunization procedures that would be absent during a sports physical.

At Premier Health S.C. it is our goal to be a leader in the delivery of personalized medical care in the Fox Cities.  We offer a full range of services including regular annual physicals and sports physicals.  If you have a student who is excited for fall, winter, spring, or summer sports, give us a call at 920.727.4946 to set up an appointment today!