History of sports medicine - 1251-1500


Italian surgeon Theodoric Borgognoni (1205-1296) wrote his important book 'Cyrurgia' which is considered to be the best work on anatomy before the Renaissance. He preferred the scalpel to the cautery and insisted upon cleanliness when operating and the avoidance of trauma and manipulation, if possible. In Bologna was taught the fundamental doctrine of antisepsis as practiced by the Hippocratic school as well as the avoidance of wound contamination.


One of the most famous surgeons of the Middle Ages was Guy de Chuauliac (1300-1368), who was a Professor at the University of Montpellier, wrote the following about femur fractures:

“After the application of splints, I attach to the foot a mass of lead as a weight, taking care to pass the cord which supports the weight over a small pulley in such a manner that it shall pull on the leg in a horizontal direction.”

This description is strikingly similar to the modern-day nonoperative management of femur fractures, and underscores the importance of traction, which was first described by the Greek physician Hippocrates (460-370 vC)


Italian humanist Vittorino da Feltre (1373-1446) was one of the first modern educators. In 1420 he opened a popular school with a focus on humanism and physical education.


German theologian and philosopher Nicolas van Cusa (1401-1464) introduced the concept of a direct relationship between pulse measurement and disease.


Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) from the fifteenth century revealed the design of a device with which one could follow the distance traveled by a Roman soldier on foot.

The idea was materialized and the Roman army used the device which gave a rough estimate of the road traveled.


During the 15th and 16th centuries there was a complete review of anatomy based upon meticulous dissection of the human body. Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) was the leader of the scientific method of research which culminated in the work of the Belgian physician and anatomist Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564). Leonardo was an instructor of anatomy, and he made many original observations concerning the origin, insertions, and functions of the muscles of the human body. He developed two important principles of muscle function; mechanical leverage and synergistic action upon which muscle balance depends. Leonardo worked for many years with his teacher, the renowned anatomist Marc Marcantonio della Torre (1481-1511).