The medicine ball has become a popular workout accessory because of the unique benefits it offers. Although many people have known about it just recently, the use of medicine balls started about 3000 years ago for training gladiators. The first medicine balls were made by stuffing sand in bladders. Later on, sand was filled inside animal skins to form a kind of a ball that people used to rehabilitate injuries and for general strength training. If you want to know about med balls, this article briefly explores what they are, medicine ball exercises and benefits, and how to choose one.
What is the medicine ball?
The medicine ball is a spherical solid weighing from 1 to 50 pounds. The ball can be made from a variety of materials including nylon, leather, vinyl, polyurethane, or dense rubber. The inside is filled with gel, sand, or air. There are different sizes of medicine balls – from small ones (similar to softballs) to bigger ones the size of a beach ball. The surface of many newfangled models of medicine balls may feature grips for kettlebell and dumbbell exercises. Some med balls may even have a rope attached to function as a swing ball too.
Benefits of using a medicine ball
Many people use medicine balls to improve sport-specific aspects and also for overall strength, flexibility, fitness, and body coordination. These balls are best known for power. As you throw and catch the ball, you build explosiveness and develop ability to absorb force and redirect it.
Throw and catch drills are very useful for developing athletic power. Medicine balls teach your muscles to let go. Since you can throw the ball without worrying about how to slow it down, your nervous system fires up your muscles harder, and this helps you to throw harder punches or perform faster baseball pitches and bat swings.
A medicine ball offers you immediate feedback on your power, which can be gauged by how far you launch the ball. In addition, many med ball exercises replicate movements found in sports. Unlike foundational movements like deadlifts, squats, and bench presses that are limited to a single movement plane, medicine ball exercises allow for power to be transferred throughout the entire body. Its natural rotational motions help to define the midsection and prevent lower back injury.
Selecting the right medicine ball
The weight of a medicine ball is of great importance when selecting one. You want a ball with the right weight for you – one that challenges but allows you control over the ball and proper form of body as you do your movements. Try out different sizes of medicine balls with a few exercises to know which ball weight and size is right for you.
Another thing to remember about medicine balls is that they are of two different categories – those that bounce on impact and those that don’t bounce. Balls with a hard outside material and filled with air rebound when thrown to a wall or the floor. These are the better option when you intend to exercise alone. In contrast, medicine balls that don’t bounce (also called dead balls) have a softer outer material and relatively less air or sand inside.