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A medicine ball (also known as an exercise ball, a med ball, or a fitness ball) is a weighted ball roughly the diameter of the shoulders (approx. 13.7 inches), often used for rehabilitation and strength training. The medicine ball also serves an important role in the field of sports medicine. However, it should not be confused with the larger, inflated exercise ball.
Medicine balls are usually sold as 2–25 lb (1–11 kg) balls and are used effectively in plyometric weight training to increase explosive power in athletes in all sports. Some medicine balls are up to 14" wide and up to 14 lbs weight, or in the form of weighted basketballs. Modern exercise balls are larger, up to 36" diameter.
A med ball is used for children training as the best way to overcome fear of free weights exercises.
Hippocrates is said to have stuffed animal skins for patients to toss for “medicinal” purposes. Persia in 1705 used similar large balls. The term "medicine ball" dates back to at least 1876, in American Gymnasia and Academic Record, by Robert Jenkins Roberts, JR. Roberts also invented the sand pile as a play scape. Roberts through the Boston YMCA started the Boston Marathon. The name "medicine ball" is a play on the American Indian device, the medicine bag which the medicine ball resembles. Native American culture was experiencing a rebirth of appreciation in the minds of European Americans as witnessed by the creation of the American Boy Scouts movement at the same time as the invention of these exercise tools by Roberts.
- "Merriam Webster - Medicine Ball". Retrieved 20 February 2014.
- Internicola, Dorene (6 October 2014). "Medicine balls are ancient fitness tools that keep bouncing back". Reuters. Retrieved 21 April 2015.