History of sports medicine - 1-1000


The Roman encyclopaedis Aulus Cornelius Celsus (25-50) noted:

"Exercise, because the body is weakened by inactivity while it is strengthened by activity, the first produces premature old age, the latter prolongs youth"


 The Chinese physician Hua T'o (110-270) prescribed moderate body movements because of their yang effect. He pleaded for exercises that mimicked the movements of deers, tigers, bears, monkeys and birds and compared them with the movements of 'frisky animals'. According to him, the body needed the exercises to expel the bad air from the system, to promote free blood circulation and to prevent diseases. Only they should not to lead to exhaustion.


The Greek physician Claudius Galen (129-216) suspected that there was a heat source in the heart and that that inner fire was responsible for the pulse. The views of Galen were modern. He adapted the philosophy of the Greek philosopher Plato (427-347 BC) and declared that exercises belonged to the field of health practice and that the physician had to decide which exercises were beneficial for the gymnast. As one of the best and least dangerous forms of sport, he recommended ball games. In addition, he was also a great supporter of sports massages.
Galen accompanied the Roman gladiators in Pergamon and was probably the first team doctor in history. His research on the musculoskeletal system and his advanced understanding of its function not only helped him in his advice to maximize the performance of gladiators but also in the development of exercises for performance enhancements and rehabilitation therapy.

"Gymnastics belongs to the area of health care. Hygiene is part of health care, so hygiene also belongs to the field of gymnastics."

He also stated:

"Movements that do not change breathing are not called exercises"

He invented the terms scoliosis, kyphosis and lordosis to describe the spine deformity described by the Greek physician Hippocrates (460-370 BC).


The Greek philosopher Philostratos Flavius (170-247) followed Galen's footsteps, he wrote in his book 'Logos Gymnastikos':

"What can we say about physical education? Is it not the science that consists of both healing and physical education, but which is more perfect than either of them seperately? All diseases related to colds, tuberculosis, or epilepsy are addressed by physicians. treated with lavenders, drinks and plaster, while exercises try to prevent these diseases together with nutrition and massages. "

From him came the first, most useful information about the physical condition of runners, wrestlers and javelin throwers. According to him, the ideal gymnastic exercises were the Kalokagathia, the united ideal of goodness and beauty. He advised regular sunbathing for older people who could not exercise anymore.


In ancient China, Wang Shu-he (265-316) published ten books about the pulse. His research into the pulse diagnosis was extremely prominent. His excellent work 'Mai Jing' (The Pulse Classics) contained a lot of knowledge about the secrets of the pulse. It consisted of ten roles and described 24 different types of pulse with their position and measurement method. The work allowed future generations to understand the essence of the pulse, but also the different pulse phenomena in every disease. Wang Shu-he is called the master of the pulse and is considered a pioneer in the field. One of his remarkable statements was:

"If the pattern of the heartbeat becomes as regular as the beating of a woodpecker or the dripping of the rain from a roof, the patient dies within four days ..."


Before newer methods emerged from Arabic medicine, both the Greek physician Oribasius (320-400) in Byzantium and the Roman doctors Caelius Aurelian (5th century AD) (photo) and Theodorus Priscianus (5th century AD) tried to improve the knowledge about sports medicine and to further develop its use.


The first physician to write about the pulse in Arabic was Abu Zakariya Yuhanna Ibn Masawayh (777-857), a Syrian Christian known in Latin literature as Mesue Senior. He studied anatomy by dissecting animals. He was a physician for four Caliphs from Baghdad and he also was the hospital director in that city.


The Persian physician Al Razi (865-925) improved the Galenian pulse, publishing more than 180 books and articles on this subject. He is generally regarded as the father of paediatrics, but he also did pioneering work as a neurosurgeon and ophthalmologist. He was the first to describe the smallpox disease and allergic asthma.