It’s easy to assume your child is perfectly healthy — after all, they are young, active, athletic, and show no signs of illness or injury. But some problems aren’t obvious and can strike without warning during strenuous physical activity.
That’s where sports physicals come in. The specialized exams are different from the traditional annual physical, and they focus only on the aspects of your health related to physical activity to determine whether your body is capable of performing your sport safely.
At Four Peaks Primary Care & Internal Medicine, Dr. Fayz Yar Khan performs sports physicals for kids and adults throughout Phoenix, Arizona, and understands that you may have some questions about this exam, why it’s important, and when it’s necessary. Here, he offers some insight into this essential medical exam.
How is a sports physical different from a regular physical?
Routine annual exams focus on broad health issues, including your risk for particular diseases, your developmental health, your overall wellness, your vaccinations, and management of chronic illnesses.
Sports physicals don’t consider those issues, which is why it’s important to get an annual physical as well.
Sports physicals look at issues that may affect the way you play sports, issues that may hinder performance, and conditions that physical activity may exacerbate. Dr. Yar Khan examines your lungs, heart, nervous system, and musculoskeletal structure.
He also asks questions about:
- Your medical history
- Your family’s medical history
- Any medications or supplements you take
- Whether you use alcohol or drugs (including performance-enhancing steroids)
- Your diet
- The sports you play
- Your level of competition
Your responses and the result of your physical exam help Dr. Yar Khan determine whether your body can handle the rigors of athletics.
When to consider a sports physical
One of the questions we get a lot is: Does everyone need a sports physical? To help you decide when to consider a sports physical for yourself or your child, we’ve put together a list of scenarios that require this specialized exam.
When the school or organization requires it
Often, you don’t have a choice to consider a sports physical or not — it’s required. Arizona state law requires all students who participate in sports to undergo a sports physical. This not only keeps the student-athlete safe, it also protects the schools and coaches against liability claims.
Six weeks before the season starts
As long as you’re cleared by a physician to participate before the first practice or game, you can get your sports physical anytime it’s convenient for you. But keep in mind that if the doctor finds any concerning issues, you may be sidelined until the problem is resolved.
That’s why we recommend getting your sports physical done at least six weeks ahead of the time you start to play.
When there’s been an injury in the past
If you’ve suffered past injuries, such as a sprained ankle or a broken arm, Dr. Yar Khan makes sure it has healed properly before you start your season and also gives you valuable information that will help prevent a re-injury.
When participating in active hobbies
Organized sports aren’t the only activities that require a sports physical. If you or your child are avid skateboarders, skiers, horseback riders, or are involved in any regular physical activity along these lines, a sports physical is just as important for you as it is for kids trying out for their first sport and college athletes.
When you’re a weekend warrior
The term “weekend warrior” stems from the habit some folks have of working at a desk all week and playing sports on the weekends. This lifestyle is particularly tough on your body, since you don’t condition it throughout the week — a perfect recipe for injury. Dr. Yar Khan can let you know if your muscles, bones, heart, and lungs are capable of that type of start-and-stop activity.
Issues that may show up in your sports physical
Dr. Yar Khan thoroughly evaluates your physical condition, and in most cases he signs off on a clean bill of health. But occasionally, he detects issues that indicate it’s too dangerous for you to participate. These include:
- Eating disorders
- Convulsive disorders
- Sickle cell disease
- Coronary artery disease
- History of chest pain
- Heart murmur
- Poorly healed past injuries
If you have a condition that restricts your ability to participate, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re out for the season, but you may not be cleared to play until the issue is resolved.
Don’t get caught off guard by an underlying health condition, schedule your sports physical at Four Peaks Primary Care & Internal Medicine today. Simply give us a call or use our online booking tool.