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An Introduction to the Medicine Ball

Aug 22, 2010

A medicine ball refers to a weighted ball that can be used for doing a wide range of exercises to improve fitness, strength and coordination as well as help sportsmen recover from injuries. This type of ball can be made of leather, nylon, vinyl, rubber, polyurethane and other materials, and it comes in many different weights, ranging from 2 lb to 25 lb. The standard medicine ball has a diameter of 14 inches, but other sizes are also available.

History of the Medicine Ball

The earliest documented use of the medicine ball dates back to almost 3,000 years ago, when Persian wrestlers trained with bladders that were filled with sand. Later on, in the time of ancient Greece, famous physician Hippocrates stuffed animal skins with sand to create medicine balls. As part of his injury rehabilitation therapy, his patients were ordered to throw the balls back and forth. In the late 19th century, the words "medicine" and "health" became synonymous, and the medicine ball was used for promoting health. It became one of the "4 Horsemen of Fitness," which also included the dumbbell, the wand and the Indian club. This marked the origin of the modern medicine ball.

Uses of the Medicine Ball

Medicine balls are commonly used by athletes to improve their core strength, especially in the chest, arms and legs. Athletes who have sustained injuries also perform medicine ball training to recover their former strength and fitness. Medicine balls are effective exercise equipment for professional boxers, who use them to build strength in the abdominal muscles. A medicine ball is dropped onto a boxer's abdomen from a certain height to simulate a punch from an opponent. Certain schools use medicine balls as fitness aids for students, who are required to perform a wide range of exercises to stretch their muscles and improve their strength.

Medicine Ball Exercises

Medicine ball exercises are effective for improving sport-specific as well as overall strength, fitness, flexibility and body coordination. They can be performed alone or with one or more partners. Some of the common medicine ball exercises include squats, lunges, lunge crossovers, slams, crunches, oblique twists, single-leg V-ups, reverse curls, overhead lateral flexions, kneel to push ups, diagonal chops, figure eights, two-arm wall passes, hammer throws, sit-up passes, front lateral raises and standing Russian twists.

Medicine Ball Safety

It is important that athletes perform medicine ball exercises with the right techniques, so that they can get better results and prevent injuries. Athletes should warm up thoroughly before they start exercising with medicine balls. Choosing a ball with the right weight is important, as it will ensure that the exercises will be performed smoothly. For each exercise, athletes should do 1 to 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions. When doing a standing throw from behind the head, they should not overextend their spines, and standing exercises should be done with feet firmly planted on the ground. They should bend their knees and keep their backs straight when picking up their medicine ball. When lying on their backs to perform exercises, athletes have to make sure that their lower backs are touching the ground.

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