Training for Battle and Play: Swedish Gymnastics in Britain, 1890-1914

A piece by Dr Daryl Leeworthy, a previous contributor to CHPHMblog, in the impact of Swedish migrants in Victorian and Edwardian England and especially their contribution to the development of physical therapy in hospitals and sports medicine as we know it today.

History On The Dole

Swedish Gymnastics in Ireland. Reference - NLI Ref.: P_WP_1904 [via flickr commons] Swedish Gymnastics in Ireland. Reference – NLI Ref.: P_WP_1904 [via flickr commons] The human body has a remarkable capacity for physical exertion and self-healing, particularly in times of extreme stress. In different ways, war and sport provide us with the clearest examples of the body’s potency. But there are injuries that the body cannot heal by itself, hence the emergence of medicine and its scientific practices aimed at giving a helping hand. If the social history of medicine – medicine as delivered in hospitals and clinics, that is – is now reasonably well advance, our understanding of the social history of sports medicine and its sub-disciplines remains relatively slight. Indeed, it is only in recent years that pioneering work by Neil Carter, Mike Cronin, Vanessa Heggie, and Patricia Vertinsky – in the Anglo-American world – and Jens Ljunggren and Anders Ottosson in Sweden has begun to uncover…

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