What Are the Benefits of a Medicine Ball?
Medicine balls are an important piece of exercise equipment. The ball, which can weigh anywhere from two to twenty-five pounds, is typically the size of a basketball but obviously varies depending on the weight.
One of the most common uses for a medicine ball is to build core strength, meaning building muscles in your abdomen and back which helps with balance, posture and overall wellness through proper alignment. This can be done by holding the medicine ball close to your chest then thrusting it toward a partner who will catch it and repeat the exercise and throw it 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).
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 back.
After an injury or surgery, medicine balls are typically used in rehabilitation of the muscle or muscle groups such as 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 at 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.
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.
As with any exercise routine, you should consult your doctor before embarking on a new schedule. Additionally, be mindful of your form and posture while performing any of these exercises. When you are doing floor exercises on your back, make sure to keep your lower back flat on the floor as to not strain it unnecessarily.
- Sekendiz B, Cuğ M, Korkusuz F. Effects of Swiss-ball core strength training on strength, endurance, flexibility, and balance in sedentary women. J Strength Cond Res. 2010;24(11):3032-40. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181d82e70
- Yu W, Cha S, Seo S. The effect of ball exercise on the balance ability of young adults. J Phys Ther Sci. 2017;29(12):2087-2089. doi:10.1589/jpts.29.2087
As a history major at the University of Maryland, Kate McQuade spent both her undergraduate and graduate years focused on research, technical writing and independent thinking. McQuade spent many years in the IT and medical fields which lend to a well versed background in a plethora of arenas. She has been writing for almost fifteen years and is ever ready for new challenges.