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JAMA 100 Years Ago
April 25, 2007


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2007;297(16):1834. doi:10.1001/jama.297.16.1834-a

Some pertinent criticisms of the chest-swelling drill so dear to English army traditions have recently been expressed by Lieut. Col. F. A. Davy, M.D.,1 who finds the “setting-up” drill, by which the military bearing is attained, to be wrong in theory and injurious in practice. This army surgeon asserts that rigid shoulders and protruding chests interfere with the normal course of the circulation. The exercises which bring about these results really invalid many men; they do not benefit the defective, but, on the contrary, often harm even the strongest. “Holding the breath” is condemned as disturbing the balance between the respiratory and circulatory systems and as being directly in contravention of physical laws. Dr Davy declares that soldiers would be stronger and healthier if they were permitted to abandon the attitude they have worked so hard to attain, and to carry themselves much as the man on the street does. He finds that increased chest measure is often gained at the cost of motility and vital capacity; the young recruit much too often presents on examination a rapidly beating heart, a shortness of breath and a very decided discomfort.