Sports Physical Exams

Playing sports is a fun way to keep us fit and to meet people. We all know this. But what many of us do not know is the importance of a sports physical exam that we may have to take before participating in sports. Also called as preparticipation physical examination (PPE), sports physicals help determine whether it is safe for your kid to participate in certain sports. PPE is required for kids and teens in most states, but even if it is not required, doctors still recommend sports physicals.

Goals and objectives

The goals of sports physical exams can be summed up as follows: determine that the kid has general good health, detect conditions that put the kid at risk of new injuries, assess his or her current fitness level, and evaluate any of the kid’s existing injuries. PPE also assesses the developmental maturation and size of the kid, detect any congenital anomaly that increases his or her risk of injury, and detects poor preparticipation conditions that may put the kid at increased risk.

Key features

According to the American Heart Association, wherever a sports physical is done, it should include a full medical history and physical exam with a blood pressure check. Another key feature of preparticipation evaluation is precordial auscultation (or listening to the heart) in the standing and supine (laying down) positions.

Importance of a sports physical

A sports physical exam can help parents in finding out about and dealing with health issues that might get in the way with their kids’ participation in sports. For example, if your kid has frequent asthma attacks but is into track and field, your doctor might prescribe him or her a different type of inhaler so that he or she can breathe with more ease when running.

The doctor may even give good training tips and some ideas to avoid injuries. In addition, a doctor can also discover some risk factors associated with specific sports. A professional’s advice will make your kid a better and stronger athlete.


Some sports physicals are done in schools. During the physical exam, your kid may go to a number of "stations" that are set up in the school gym. Each station is staffed by medical professionals who perform specific parts of the physicals. However, even if you have sports physical exams at school, it is recommended that you see your family doctor for the physical exam as well. Your doctor knows your child and his or her health history way better than anyone in a gym.


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