A sports physical is a comprehensive exam that assesses your overall health and fitness. While it’s most common for teens and young adults as a prerequisite for organized sports, it offers benefits for anyone who enjoys sports and exercise.
Sports physicals are designed to identify any potential health issues that could put you at risk of injury before you get active, so you can take steps to keep yourself safe. Adam Redlich, MD, Adam Thompson, DO, and our team at A+ Athlete Sports Medicine in Neptune and Robbinsville, New Jersey, offer sports physicals for people of all ages.
If you or your child is planning to play sports or start a new exercise routine, here’s everything you need to know about sports physicals.
A sports physical starts with a thorough medical history and includes questions about any past injuries, illnesses, and surgeries you may have had. Once we take your medical history, we start your physical exam.
We measure your weight and height and check your vital signs. We look at your eyes, ears, nose, throat, abdomen, and limbs. Then, we assess your reflexes, flexibility, strength, and coordination.
Depending on your medical history, we may do additional tests. A few common tests in sports physicals include heart function testing, breathing testing, blood testing, and urine testing to check for certain medical conditions.
It’s important to note that your sports physical isn’t a replacement for routine checkups with your primary care physician. A sports physical is specifically designed to assess your readiness for sports or exercise. It may include additional assessments that aren’t typically included in a routine checkup, but you should still see your primary care physician regularly.
So, who should get a sports physical? And when is the right time to schedule one?
In general, anyone who plans to participate in organized sports should get a sports physical before playing. Many childrens’ recreational leagues, high schools, colleges, and professional teams require sports physicals before athletes can participate.
Even if it’s not required, our team recommends that all children and teenagers get a sports physical before they begin participating in sports or exercise. Children and teenagers are still developing physically and emotionally, and a sports physical can help ensure they’re healthy and ready for the demands of sports. Plus, sports physicals help identify any potential health issues, such as asthma, that may need to be addressed before it gets worse.
Along with children and teens, adults who plan to participate in physically demanding activities should consider getting a sports physical. A few examples include running a marathon or competing in a triathlon. Even if the activity is not organized, a physical can help identify any issues that may prevent you from participating safely and successfully.
Older adults can also benefit from sports physicals, especially if they’re planning to start or return to regular exercise or sports activities. As we age, our bodies go through changes that may affect our ability to participate in physical activity safely.
Getting a sports physical can help identify any potential health issues and provide guidance on how to safely participate in your favorite activities at every age. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with A+ Athlete Sports Medicine today.