What Do Medicine Balls Do?

Medically Reviewed on 2/22/2021

Medicine balls

The medicine balls weigh from 2 to 20 lbs.
The medicine balls weigh from 2 to 20 lbs.

There are several benefits of a medicine ball.

Motivation:

  • The medicine ball is a relatively motivating accessory that aids in training athletes. Also, this ball is used for physical therapy or rehabilitation.
  • Using dumbbells, bars, and kettlebells is standard, but medicine balls bring a new dimension to your training. A medicine ball is often promoted as being better for dynamic movements (repeated movements that stretch your muscles). You can use a medicine ball in place of dumbbells or kettlebells for many exercises.

Lower risks, higher safety:

  • Medicine ball movements are easy to learn and to perform, making them a brilliant entry-level training style with much less risk of broken toes or anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears.
  • Additionally, medicine ball training can be used in place of other types of training when injury or safety is a concern. For example, if you have issues with gripping dumbbells, then exercising with a medicine ball can help build muscle without additional stress.
  • Similarly, lacerations, damaged knees, or even head injuries are all things that can be avoided when using medicine balls for strength and power training.

Rehabilitation:

  • After an injury or surgery, medicine balls are typically used in the rehabilitation of the muscle or muscle groups. For example, when you are recovering from knee surgery. 
  • During physical therapy, you may be instructed to lie on the floor face down. The therapist would then place a medicine ball between your feet. You would then be instructed to grip the ball between your feet and lift the ball while bending the knee.
  • This would engage the muscles in your thighs and calves that cross over the knee joint and build strength and fluidity in these muscles.

Cardiovascular fitness:

  • The medicine ball exercises are generally full-body movements that combine cardiovascular and strength training at the same time.
  • Given the known neuromuscular benefits of resistance training, medicine ball training performed weekly has the potential to enhance both cardiometabolic and neuromuscular fitness.

Stretching:

  • When you are exercising with a medicine ball, the movements you make are pushed farther by the weight and force of the ball, thereby engaging your muscles to stop the movement of the added weight.
  • This engaging of muscles to stop a fluid movement increases your range of motion and promotes flexibility in joints.

Strength training:

  • Medicine balls can be used in strength training to help build muscle mass when performing certain exercises.
  • For instance, you can hold a medicine ball while doing squats or lunges to increase the intensity of the exercise and thereby building more muscle strength.
  • You can also hold the medicine ball over your head and bend your arms at the elbow, slowly lowering the medicine ball behind your head before returning to the start position.
  • This works your triceps (the back of your upper arms) as well as shoulders and the back.

Core strength:

  • A medicine ball is commonly used to build core strength, which means building muscles in your abdomen and back. This helps with balance, posture, and overall wellness through proper alignment. 
  • This can be done by holding the medicine ball close to your chest, then pushing it toward a partner, who will catch it and repeat the exercise and push the ball back to you.
  • You can also throw the ball slightly to the side to help engage the obloquies (abdominal muscles on the side of your core).

Great for balance and coordination:

  • Doing exercises when off-balance helps to work deeper muscles, the ones that are vital for maintaining good posture. You will be able to exercise safely (better core stability, stronger back) as well as feel the benefits in your everyday life.
  • By using a medicine ball, you will be able to do movements that work an entire chain of muscles. This will develop your intermuscular coordination, build up your abs and lower back muscles, and burn more calories from using more muscle mass.

Cooperation, fun, and versatility:

  • When done with a partner, it can develop social skills and teamwork.
  • This will help you stick to your workout and takes the boredom out of working out alone. Medicine ball training can be performed with one or multiple partners, which requires timing and cooperation to participate.
  • Whether you want to train competitively or cooperatively, the workout can be so playful and fun that you forget you are exercising.

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Medically Reviewed on 2/22/2021
References
American College of Sports Medicine. Medicine Balls. https://blogs.umass.edu/bodyshop/files/2009/07/SelectingandEffectivelyUsingMedicineBalls1.pdf