What Do Sports Physicals Really Do?

A sports physical is a type of medical exam that is required for some athletes before they are able to participate in sports.

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It’s that time of year again. Your young athlete is gearing up for their sports season, and part of that process includes getting a sports physical. But what exactly is a sports physical? Why are they necessary?

A sports physical, also called a pre-participation physical examination (PPE), is a medical exam that ensures an athlete is healthy and able to safely participate in their chosen sport. The exam covers a wide range of topics, from checking the athlete’s heart health to screening for conditions that might put them at risk for injuries.

In order to make sure every box is checked, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has designed a comprehensive checklist for doctors to use during a sports physical. By completing this checklist, doctors can ensure that athletes are healthy and ready to safely participate in their chosen sport.

What is a sports physical?

A sports physical is a medical exam given to young athletes before they begin to play a sport. The exam is meant to check for any medical conditions that could make playing the sport unsafe. These exams are sometimes called “pre-participation physicals” or “PPEs.”

Sports physicals are not the same as a well-child visit with your doctor. During a well-child visit, your doctor will ask about your child’s health history and current health. They will also do a physical exam and offer advice and immunizations based on your child’s age, health, and family history.

Sports physicals are usually given by the family doctor, but sometimes they are done by sports medicine specialists or nurse practitioners. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all young athletes have a sports physical before playing any type of organized sport.

What is included in a sports physical?

A sports physical is a type of examination that is used to determine whether or not an athlete is physically fit to participate in a sport. The physical will assess the athlete’s overall health and fitness, as well as their specifically their musculoskeletal and cardiovascular health. The exam will also check for any potential red flags that could indicate a higher risk for injury.

Who should get a sports physical?

Whether your child is a seasoned athlete or just starting out in organized sports, he or she will need a sports physical at some point. The purpose of a sports physical is to make sure that it’s safe for your child to participate in a particular sport.

Here are some general guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) about who should get a sports physical:
-All children and adolescents who want to participate in an organized sport should have a pre-participation physical examination (PPE).
-The PPE should be performed by a health care professional who is familiar with the child’s medical history.
-The PPE should be done every year for young athletes, and as needed for older athletes, depending on their health and the sport they’re playing.

Keep in mind that even if your child has had a recent well-child visit, he or she may still need a sports physical before starting a new sport or season. That’s because the well-child visit is focused on your child’s overall health, whereas the sports physical is specifically focused on whether it’s safe for your child to participate in a given sport.

When should you get a sports physical?

It’s recommended that young athletes receive a sports physical at least once a year. This gives doctors a chance to identify any potential health concerns and help young athletes stay safe and healthy.

Sports physicals are important for young athletes for several reasons. First, they help ensure that the athlete is physically fit to participate in their chosen sport. Doctors can assess the athlete’s overall health, identify any potential health concerns, and advise on any necessary precautions or treatments.

Second, sports physicals can help detect previously undiagnosed medical conditions that could potentially be aggravated by participation in athletics. For example, an athlete with undiagnosed asthma may not have any symptoms at rest, but may experience shortness of breath during exercise. A sports physical can help flag this condition so that the athlete can be properly treated before participating in their sport.

Third, sports physicals provide an opportunity for parents and guardians to ask questions about their child’s health and participation in athletics. Parents can learn about how to prevent injuries and how to identify signs of illness or injury in their child. They can also get tips on healthy eating and exercise habits for their child.

Sports physicals are an important part of keeping young athletes safe and healthy. However, it’s important to remember that they are not a replacement for regular doctor visits. If your child is experiencing any medical problems or has any concerns about their health, they should see their doctor even if they have had a recent sports physical

How often should you get a sports physical?

A sports physical is a medical examination that evaluates a young athlete’s ability to participate in a sport. An athlete’s medical history and current health status are taken into account. A sports physical also includes a vision test.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all children have a general medical examination at least once a year, preferably with their regular doctor or pediatrician. The AAP also recommends that every child who participates in organized sports have a sports physical every year.

A sports physical should be scheduled well in advance of the start of the sports season. This will give the doctor time to address any health concerns that could impact the child’s ability to safely participate in the sport.

What are the benefits of a sports physical?

A sports physical is an examination performed by a physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant to evaluate whether it is safe for a patient to participate in a particular sport. The physical should not be confused with a pre-participation physical evaluation (PPE), which is required by some school districts and state athletic associations in order for an athlete to compete.

Sports physicals generally include a review of the patient’s medical history, a physical examination, and sometimes tests such as an electrocardiogram (EKG) or X-rays. The purpose of the sports physical is to detect any conditions that might put the patient at risk for injury or illness during exercise or competition.

Patients who have chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease may benefit from a sport-specific training program that can help them stay safe and healthy while participating in their chosen activity. For example, asthmatic athletes may need to use an inhaler before exercise to prevent an attack, and diabetics may need to monitor their blood sugar levels more closely when participating in strenuous activity.

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) recommends that all athletes have a pre-participation sports physical every year. However, some organizations such as the American Heart Association (AHA) only recommend sports physicals every two years for healthy patients with no known risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

The bottom line is that there are many benefits to having a sports physical, regardless of how often they are recommended. Sports physicals can help detect underlying health conditions that might otherwise go unnoticed, and they can provide patients with guidance on how to stay safe and healthy while participating in their chosen activity.

Are there any risks associated with sports physicals?

Sports physicals are routine checkups that evaluate whether it is safe for a student to participate in a sport. The physical generally includes a health history questionnaire, an exam by a doctor, and sometimes imaging tests or other screenings.

There are some risks associated with sports physicals, but they are generally minor. The most common risks include:
-Incorrect diagnosis: A small percentage of people who have a sports physical will be incorrectly diagnosed with a condition that does not actually exist. This can lead to unnecessary anxiety or even treatment that is not needed.
-False positive: It is also possible to have a false positive result on one of the screening tests that is done during a sports physical. This means that the test says you have a condition when you actually do not. False positives can occur with any type of screening test, and they can lead to unnecessary worry or treatment.
-Missed diagnosis: Although rare, it is possible for a serious condition to be missed during a sports physical. This is more likely to occur if the person performing the physical is not experienced in spotting signs of serious conditions.


In conclusion, sports physicals are an important part of keeping athletes healthy and safe. They help to identify any potential health concerns that could affect an athlete’s performance or well-being. It is important to remember that not all health concerns can be found during a sports physical, so it is still important for athletes to see their regular doctor for check-ups and any specific health concerns they may have.

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