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Children's Health

Physical Examinations



I am 12 years old. I`m doing cheerleading and I have to have a physical exam, but I don`t know what they do? Can you please tell me what they do?


Congratulations on participating in cheerleading! It is great you are choosing to be active!

A good sports pre-participation evaluation should include three elements:


1) A thorough history of heart, lung, and musculoskeletal problems you have had in your brief 12 years of life.

2) A head to toe physical exam.  

3) An evaluation of your muscle strength, coordination, balance, joint motion, and flexibility.

There would not be a need to do a gynecological assessment unless you report having heavy periods or other concerns that would suggest you need a pelvic exam.

There a few things I always recommend to athletes. These are that you remember to drink plenty of water before cheering practice and games, drink plenty during the game, and keep on drinking water after the game. Most athletes do not need to spend money on sports drinks and special supplements. They may do more harm than good for your body as well as costing a lot.


The other thing is to know that when you are going through a growth spurt, your muscles and ligaments lag behind your bones in growth. This makes you less nimble than you were before the growth spurt and may impair your performance. It also makes you more likely to injure yourself because the ligaments and muscles are stretched so tightly to the bones. So do not be too hard on yourself if you go through a short period of clumsiness if you have not already had your major growth spurt.


Stretching well is a good idea before practice and games. The best knee protective exercise is squats. An easy way to do them is to stand in front of a chair (not on wheels!) and sit until your bottom touches the set. Then stand up and repeat the process for a set of 10 repetitions, three or more times each day.

I hope this is helpful information and have a wonderful experience as a cheerleader!

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Response by:

Mary M Gottesman, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN Mary M Gottesman, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN
Professor of Clinical Nursing
College of Nursing
The Ohio State University