It might seem like an annual inconvenience to take your kids to the doctor for a sports physical. But for many of the more than 7 million high school students who play sports, the physicals serve as their only contact with the health care system, says Dr. Deborah L. Squire, of the Duke Children's Primary Care department.
The physicals identify conditions that might make a sport unsafe, screen for undetected health problems and ensure that previous injuries have adequately healed.
But they also provide an opportunity to teach parents and athletes about injury prevention, conditioning and training appropriate for the child's level of physical maturity.
Squire says the physicals should take place six to eight weeks before the start of practice. Parents and athletes should bring with them a complete medical and nutritional history, including the use of any supplements.
What's the best diet for athletes and how can they stay properly hydrated on the field? Go to dukehealth.org for answers to these questions and other tips for keeping your student-athletes healthy.