Pre-participation Sports Physicals and Injury Prevention Tips for Active Kids

Keeping Your Active Kid Safe: Tips from Pediatric Specialists in Heber City, Utah

As pediatricians, we see the joy and benefits of physical activity in children every day. From the giggles on the playground to the focused determination on the soccer field, staying active is crucial for a healthy body and mind. But with all that movement comes the potential for bumps and bruises, and sometimes even more serious injuries. 

This is where pre-participation physicals (PPEs) and injury prevention strategies come in. By working together, we can ensure your active child stays safe and enjoys the many advantages of an active lifestyle. Dr. David Larson and Dr. Holly Richter, pediatric specialists at Heber Valley Pediatrics have created this blog for parents to follow when signing their child up for sports.

Pre-Participation and Sports Physicals with Pediatric Specialists

Before your child dives headfirst into a new sport or activity, a PPE is essential. Often referred to as “sports physicals,” these exams go beyond a simple check-up. Here’s what a PPE with Dr. David Larson or Dr. Holly Richter typically involves:

Medical History Review: We will discuss your child’s past health conditions, surgeries, allergies, and medications. This helps identify any potential risks associated with specific activities.

Physical Examination: A thorough physical exam will assess your child’s overall health, including their heart, lungs, vision, hearing, and musculoskeletal system (bones, joints, and muscles). 

Immunization Review: We’ll ensure your child is up-to-date on all recommended immunizations to prevent illnesses that could sideline them from play.

Discussion of Risks and Benefits: We’ll discuss the specific sport or activity and any potential risks involved based on your child’s health. We can also talk about the numerous benefits of participating,  from building strength and coordination to fostering teamwork and social skills. 

Benefits of Sports Physicals

So why are PPEs so important? Here are some key benefits:

Early Detection of Medical Issues: A preparticipation sports physical can uncover underlying health conditions that may increase your child’s risk of injury during physical activity. Early detection allows for proper management and can prevent future complications.

Improved Safety: By identifying potential risks, pediatric specialists can recommend modifications or restrictions to activities that may be too demanding for your child’s current physical condition. 

Peace of Mind for Parents: Knowing your child has been cleared for participation by a healthcare professional can offer peace of mind and allow you to focus on cheering them on from the sidelines.

Who Needs a PPE?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends a sports physical for all children and adolescents who are planning to participate in organized sports or strenuous physical activities. This includes school sports, recreational leagues, and even high-impact activities like gymnastics or dance. 

When to Schedule a Sports Physical or PPE?

Ideally, schedule a sports physical at least 6 weeks before the start of a new season or activity. This allows time to address any concerns that may arise during the exam and ensures your child is cleared for participation on day one.

Preparing for Your Child’s Physical

To ensure a smooth and efficient PPE, here’s how you can prepare your child:

Gather Information: Collect past medical records, a list of current medications, and any questions you have for me.

Discuss with Your Child: Talk to your child about any concerns or questions they may have about the exam or the activity they’re interested in.

Preparing for Injury Prevention

While physicals are a crucial first step, they’re not the only tool in our injury prevention toolbox. Here are some additional tips from our pediatric specialists to keep your active child safe:

Warm-Up and Cool-Down: Proper warm-up routines prepare muscles for activity, reducing the risk of strains and tears. Similarly, cool-down helps the body recover by gradually lowering the heart rate and blood pressure.

Stretching: Regular stretching before and after activity improves flexibility and reduces muscle soreness. 

Hydration: Encourage your child to drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially before, during, and after physical activity. 

Proper Equipment: Ensure your child has the correct safety gear for their chosen activity, such as helmets, pads, or mouth guards. 

Gradual Progression: Avoid pushing your child too hard too fast. Gradually increase training intensity and duration to prevent overuse injuries and burnout.

Listen to Your Child: Pay attention to your child’s body signals. If they experience pain, fatigue, or dizziness, encourage them to take a break or stop altogether.

Other Tips from Pediatric Specialists

Cross-Training for Well-Rounded Development: Our pediatric specialists recommend participating in a variety of activities can benefit your child in several ways. Cross-training works different muscle groups, reducing the risk of overuse injuries in any one area. It also helps develop well-rounded athleticism and prevent boredom. 

Nutrition for Peak Performance: A healthy diet fuels your child’s body for optimal performance and recovery. Focus on whole, unprocessed foods that provide a balance of carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. Pack nutritious snacks for practices and games, and avoid sugary drinks and processed foods that can cause energy crashes.

Heber Valley Pediatrics In Heber City Utah

Raising active children is a joy, and with the right approach, we can ensure their safety and enjoyment throughout their athletic journey. Pre-participation physicals are a crucial first step, providing a baseline assessment and helping us identify any potential risks.

Combined with consistent injury prevention strategies like proper warm-up/cool-down, hydration, and safe equipment, we can significantly decrease the likelihood of your child experiencing injuries. Remember, listening to your child and respecting their pain signals is equally important.

At Heber Valley Pediatrics, Dr. David Larson and Dr. Holly Richter are passionate about helping children of all ages stay healthy and active. We offer comprehensive pre-participation physicals, tailored to your child’s specific sport or activity. Our pediatric specialists work with you to develop a personalized injury prevention plan and discuss any concerns you may have about your child’s health and well-being.

Schedule Your Child’s Sports Physical Today

Schedule a sports physical with Dr. Larson or Dr. Richter today by calling (435) 657-0101 or visiting our website at to ensure your active child starts the season safe and sound! Remember, a healthy and happy child is a winning child!

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