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How Does a Sports Physical Differ from a Regular Physical?

Aug 01, 2023
How Does a Sports Physical Differ from a Regular Physical?
August is famous (or infamous) to many as the time to get ready to go back to school. When you have young athletes on your home roster you may need a sports physical before they can hit the field.  

At HealthyU Clinics in Arizona, we provide our patients with annual check ups as well as sports physicals. While there’s overlap between the two examinations, they’re not the same. An annual check up is a personal health monitoring process based around preventive medicine. It’s designed to find problems early as well as monitoring existing conditions and age-appropriate development. 

A sports physical is often a legal requirement or prerequisite for participating in organized sports. The sports physical targets your child’s health in relation to the demands of the sport in which they’re enrolled. That’s just the beginning of the differences between the two doctor visits, each important for its own reasons. 

The sports physical 

There are two key focal points for a sports physical: the demands that a sport makes on an athlete and how your athlete measures against these as well as monitoring any past injuries and recovery from these. 

The exam is largely based on musculoskeletal criteria, such as appropriate physical development like height and weight, muscle development, flexibility, and bone strength. Heart health, reflexes, vision, and hearing may factor in, again based on the requirements of the sport in question. We’ll review other aspects of your child’s health history, such as medications they may be taking. 

Health history may be a factor, too. This involves checking on the health of immediate relatives to assess risk for certain conditions, or to measure existing conditions against the demands of the sport. Things of this nature may include asthma or allergies. Outdoor sports and insect bites might be a problem for some who are prone to anaphylactic shock. 

The regular physical

The scope of the sports physical is much narrower than that of an annual checkup. There are parts of both exams that overlap, but even then your doctor may examine the results in a wider context for a regular physical. 

A health history review commonly features in any check up but don’t be surprised if our physician goes over this in more detail during your annual visit. A regular physical is also the ideal time to administer any pending vaccinations. 

When you’ve built a relationship with a physician, they have the necessary background to assess your child’s development. There will be age-appropriate questions to help evaluate if your child is on track for their age group. 

Greater attention to preventive health comes to the fore in a regular physical. This could include blood testing and other lab work to screen for overall wellness. 

Can a sports physical be combined with a regular physical? 

It’s possible to have a sports physical performed at the same time as an annual physical. However, it’s necessary to be clear about this double need. A regular physical doesn’t replace a sports physical, nor does a sports physical stand in for an annual checkup. 

With 10 locations HealthyU Clinics are conveniently located. Call the office of your choice directly or use the online booking tool to set up your visit. Book now for the coming school year.