Sports Physicals for Teenage Athletes


July and August is the time to be scheduling your child’s sports physical for the fall and coming school year. According to Dr. James Dearing, the longtime Team Doctor for Thunderbird High School and a primary care physician at Synergy Health 360 – NW Phoenix, sports physicals are an annual item on the back-to-school checklist for parents of student athletes.

The importance of sports physicals is the health and well-being of the child. As a routine examination, a sports physical is the way to assess vitals, look for joint and muscle problems, and ultimately sign off on a clean bill of health. It’s also an opportunity to have a discussion with your primary care provider about the sport your child is playing and what to expect. We all hope to enjoy sports injury-free, but these incidents are often unavoidable given the nature of the game or level activity.

What is a Sports Physical?

Sports physicals are an opportunity for your primary care provider to catch any potential physical or life-threatening problems that can be exacerbated by athletic activity. And for the most part, a sports physical includes a discussion about the patient’s demographic information and family medical history, a standard vitals check, and a physical examination.

During the physical examination, one of the most important things that can be identified is heart and lung problems. If there is a potential issue, your primary care provider may recommend a specialist. Acute issues like bruising, soreness or sprains may be treated with resting and strengthening techniques, braces or therapeutic exercises.

Medical History

During every sports physical, your primary care provider will ask about your child’s personal and family medical history. It is important to be as honest and forthcoming as possible, to ensure that any chronic conditions related to the heart and lungs are addressed. But for the most part, it’s about understanding how the child may be experiencing
excessive fatigue or shortness of breath during exercise, asthma, heart murmurs, constant headaches or a history of concussions.

“It’s a joy to meet children of the patients I’ve being seeing for years in our community,” said Dearing. “I already have a background on their family medical history as their primary care physician, and it’s great to see the improvements in sports equipment and training techniques to help prevent injuries.”

What to Bring to a Sports Physical

You should bring any forms provided by your child’s school or sports program that require a signature of the primary care provider.  If you have any medical records to share as a new patient, please bring a copy of those as well.

Plenty of questions. We have a shared interest in keeping your child safe and injury-free, so please ask us about any concerns you may have about the sport or activity and common issues that might arise.

Your insurance information. While most insurances do not cover sports physicals, and Synergy Health 360 partners with local schools to provide affordable options, it is always helpful to have your insurance information on hand in the event acute care is needed in the future.

When to Schedule a Sports Physical

It’s best to schedule your sports physical about four to six weeks in advance of the season, depending upon the sport. Some clubs and leagues may require that you have the sports physical documented prior to registration. Either way, it’s best to plan early and with plenty of time in the event any acute treatment may be required.

Synergy Health 360 has primary care providers and two convenient locations, in NW Phoenix and Scottsdale, standing by and ready!