When it comes to preparing for football season, two-a-days may be the first thing that comes to mind. But, throwing the ball around and learning plays aren’t the only ways to get ready. A sports physical is the first step toward the playing field, one that every child should take prior to each year’s season.
What Are They?
Sports physicals are slightly different than a general wellness checkup because they take into account the specific requirements of the game your child will be playing. For example, football players can sustain more blows to the head and shoulders than athletes in other sports, so the doctor might look closer at those parts of the body to ensure they’re fit enough to handle the rigors of the game. He or she can also recommend steps to avoid injuries based on your child’s physical condition. For example, the doctor might notice that your child’s left knee is weak or has had a previous injury, and so might recommend wearing a knee brace during practices to support and avoid further injury to that joint.
What to Expect
At a sports physical, the doctor may:
- Review your child’s immunization record
- Measure your child’s weight and height
- Perform a visual inspection of the eyes, nose, and throat
- Measure blood pressure
- Test eyesight
- Test flexibility and strength
- Listen to the heart and lungs
- Review your child’s medical history
- Ask your child if they’ve ever felt dizzy or pain in the chest when running or playing sports
Why Should Your Child Get a Sports Physical Before Playing Football?
So, why should you get a sports physical for your little football player? To understand why it’s necessary, it helps to know a few facts about it:
- It may be required for your child to join a football club or the team at their school. In fact, nearly all states require one before a child can begin a high-school-level sports season.
- A general yearly physical may not take football-specific considerations into account, such as knee flexibility and prior trauma. A sports physical is a better way to get an idea of if your child is fit for football.
- If an injury does occur, it can help establish liability. No one likes to think about the worst-case outcome, but if your child does end up getting hurt, having a sports physical from the start of the season can help establish liability in the case of a lawsuit, and can also provide evidence for insurers.
- It can improve your child’s performance in the upcoming season. Based on the results of the physical, your child’s doctor may provide recommendations that could improve your child’s fitness for football and in turn help them become a better athlete. For example, the doctor may notice inflexibility and recommend stretching exercises that may help improve performance and prevent injuries like torn muscles or ligaments.
A sports physical is not a replacement for a yearly checkup, and you’ll still need to make an appointment with your doctor for a general physical, or see if he or she can do the general one at the same time. In any case, sports physicals are an important part of prepping for football season, and by ensuring your child receives one each year, you’ll set them up to have a better, and healthier, season.
This article was written by Kara Alcamo, freelance writer and concerned mother.