History of sports medicine - 1651-1700


A drawing of a treadmill from the German town Nürnberg with which grain was ground.


The prototype of an indirect calorimeter invented by the British physician, chemist and physiologist John Mayow (1641-1691).

A bell jar containing a mouse was placed inverted on a pot with water covered with a fleece. The air consumption of the mouse reduced the pressure in the clock, causing the water to rise. That this experiment worked was purely coincidence. The carbon dioxide produced by the mouse was dissolved in the water and thus did not take the place of the amount of oxygen consumed. In 1668 he published two works on respiration and rickets, which, together with three others, were reprinted six years later in larger and improved form: 'De sal-nitro et spiritu nitro-aereo', 'De respiratione foetus in utero et ovo', 'De motu musculari et spiritibus animalibus' and 'Tractatus quinque medico-physici'. The content of his work, which was several times translated into Dutch, French and German, proves that Mayow as a researcher was far ahead of his time. He concluded that an air constituent was absolutely necessary for life, and he assumed that the lungs took it out of the atmosphere and passed it into the blood. According to Mayow this component was also needed for all muscle movements, and he thought there was reason to believe that the sudden contraction of a muscle was produced by a combination with other flammable (salino-sulphurous) particles in the body. Hence the heart stops as a muscle, when breathing is stopped. Thus Mayow gave a remarkably correct anatomical description of the respiratory system and in fact he preceded Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) and Antoine Lavoisier (1743-1794) a century in recognizing oxygen as a separate entity, although he called it 'spiritus nitro-aereus'


According to one of his biographers, the English scientist Robert Hooke (1635-1703) invented a pedometer in 1674

The device helped surveyors and map makers. It was one of the many scientific instruments he invented.


The Armenian-Italian physician and scientist Giorgio Baglivi (1668-1707) discovered the existence of two types of muscle tissue, the striped and the smooth. He served as an assistant to the Italian Professor of anatomy Marcello Malpighi (1628-1694) at the University of Bologna and conducted experiments on the bloodcirculation in frogs. Through the microscope he studied the structure of muscles and brains. In 1696 he became Professor of anatomy at the Sapienza college.


In 'Some Thoughts Concerning Education', British physician and philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) underlined the importance of body care with cold baths, various outdoor activities, fencing and horse riding, but he also recommended loose clothing free to move.


The French mathematician and astronomer Philippe De La Hire (1640-1718) published the first scientific study on the muscle strength of the upper limbs.


Clopton Havers (1657-1702) of London studied at the University of Utrecht, and investigated the bones and joints. His book "The Osteologia Nova" contains the first description of the microscopic appearance of the articular cartilage and the internal architecture of bone tissue, including the first account of the vascular canals of long bones known as the Haversian canals. He did not recognize, however, their vascular contents.