History of sports medicine - 1841-1845


After thorough research, German chemist Justius von Liebig (1803-1870) published that proteins, carbohydrates and fats burned in the body, and not carbon and hydrogen. In his original theory, Liebig stated that oxygen caused the burning of fat and carbohydrates, whereas, according to him, the breakdown of proteins happened via muscle activity.


Dane Edvard August Scharling (1807-1866), Professor of Chemistry at the University of Copenhagen, wanted to find out how much carbon dioxide a person exhaled daily. To obtain the most accurate result he did gas measurements in exceptional conditions:

  1. With direct measurements and not through analysis of food such as Justius von Liebig (1803-1870);
  2. For quite a long time;
  3. Under almost natural activity conditions.

For this Scharling developed a room of 1m³ that was suitable for research on people. It was vented with an air pump and for the absorption of the carbon dioxide the air was passed through a potassium carbonate solution. Scharling performed several experiments, with one of them a 30-year-old man had to lift a heavy iron bar as long as possible until he was sweating, producing a quantity of carbon dioxide that was the triple of that at rest.


German physiologist Emil Dubois-Reymond (1818-1896) described the 'action potential' that accompanies every muscle contraction. He discovered the small voltage potential present in a resting muscle and noted that it decreased with a muscle contraction.

To achieve this, he developed one of the most sensitive galvanometers of that time. His 'Rheotome' had a coil of five km wire with 24,000 rotations and a two positions switch.


French physician Louis Denis Jules Gavarret (1809-1890) and French Professor Pathology Gabriel Andral (1797-1876) were the first to show that blood composition changes depending on the pathological condition of the test subject. Their research emphasized the value of chemical blood test to confirm a diagnosis.

For this they placed a copper mask with rubber edges on the face. Inside the mask were valves that prevented the exhalation of the testee in open air.

A tube was connected to a series of glass globes in which a vacuum was created before the experiment started. The exhaled air was collected by suction and then carbon dioxide was absorbed from this air and the weight increase of the absorption chain was determined.


French gymanstic teacher Chrétien Heiser (1812-1867) introduced medical gymnastics in France. The precursor of current physiotherapy was then called Swedish gymnastics. Under his impulse, the gymnastics entered the hospitals of Strasbourg in 1845 and in 1847 in Paris.


The book 'Physical Education and Preservation of Health' by John Warren (1778-1856), a surgeon at the American Harvard University, was published in 1845. That same year he stood at the cradle of the American movement for physical education. Warren explained:

"It is a general law that health can be preserved until later in life by using beneficial things and avoiding harmful effects, most of which are the result of a violation of the laws of nature, sometimes the result of ignorance but more often of inattention."

He was one of the founders of the 'New England Journal of Medicine' and was the third president of the 'American Medical Association'. He was the first dean of the Harvard Medical School and one of the founders of the Massachusetts General Hospital.


John Goodsir (1814-1867), Professor of Anatomy at the University of Edingburg, was a pioneer in the study of the cell. While studying osteogenesis, he observed that the formation of osteoid tissue and callus was a direct effect of the osteoblasts in the periosteum.