If you are thinking about participating in a sport or even just beginning a routine with more physical activity, it is a good idea to schedule a sports physical with your physician beforehand. In some cases, this may be required for your participation, but even if it isn't, you should want the go-ahead from a doctor before you start pushing your body in this new way. But what, exactly, takes place during a sports physical? Take a look.
Height and Weight Assessment
Like most doctor's appointments, this one will start with a height and weight assessment. But this time, the weight assessment is a little more important. If you are overweight, your doctor may offer some suggestions for easing your way into sports so that you are able to lose weight and minimize strain on your joints. If you are underweight, your doctor may discuss ways to boost your calorie intake in order to encourage a healthy weight gain as you participate in sports.
Your temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate will be assessed. If there is anything concerning, such as high blood pressure, your doctor may tell you that you need additional testing to figure out why before you put yourself at risk by participating in sports. Or, they want you to come back in a few months, after getting more physical activity, to see how that has affected your vital signs.
During a sports physical, your doctor will generally bend and flex many of your joints. They'll look for stiffness, lack of mobility, inflammation, and anything else that might indicate an underlying musculoskeletal disorder or increased risk of injury. They may tell you to be careful with your knees, for example, and recommend that you spend extra time stretching and strengthening them to prevent injuries.
Health History Discussion
This will be a big part of your sports physical. The doctor will talk to you about any illnesses you may have had in the past, such as diabetes, asthma, or allergies. These issues won't usually keep you from playing sports, but you may need to take certain precautions to make sports safer for you. For instance, if you have a history of asthma, your doctor may advise that you always keep an inhaler on-hand when you're active.
A sports physical is not something to fear, and it usually goes quite smoothly. You should walk out feeling reassured and confident that you know how to protect your body in sports.