What the heck is "medicinal" about a Medicine Ball?

I’m curious about those heavy balls I usually associate with old cartoons, like the one that Brutus was always tossing at Popeye that bashed him through a wall. Seems like Foghorn Leghorn beaned the Barnyard Dog with one a few times, too.

I’ve done a search on Altavista, but aside from learning that they are once again very popular with physical training devotees, I could find no reference to where they got their name.

Merriam-Webster gives the following definition:

No medicine there; so what is it? Are they filled with cough syrup? cod liver oil?

Could not find a definite answer. But I have two theories.

  1. Medicine balls are often found in sports medicine clinics or other places where people are being rehabilitated. Certain exercises with the medicine balls promote strength and flewibility which help injuries heal. It is possible they started off here, and later were favoured by weight lifters.

4)Perhaps they started out as punishment dished out by athletic coaches. Like instead of making someone run laps, the coach would make you push a medicine ball or toss it around or make you push it up a hill with your nose. Maybe it was created by a coach as a means of punishment and later caught on as a favorite work out exercise.

They have an ancient origin according to http://www.personal.psu.edu/users/w/x/wxk116/romeball.html

How about them bikini girls?!!?


I think Bear_Nenno is on the right track. About the balls I mean. Bikini girls just aren’t my thing so I couldn’t comment, except to note that those ladies all look like AA cups to me. Anyway.

“Medicine balls” might also be called “therapy balls”. Flodjunior has a neuromuscular condition and gets physical therapy once a week. Lots of these exercises use a giant ball. I suppose some would say it’s not a medicine ball because it’s an inflated soft rubber ball instead of a stuffed leather bag, but the kid’s only six. For adults, you’d need something stronger and heavier, so the same exercises would be done with a medicine ball.

My gym teacher in elementary school liked to make us play this stupid socceresque game where we had to crab walk and kick around a medicine ball. It took me years afterwards to realize that not all gym teachers are sadistic child-hating bastards, and that medicine balls are not an obscure medieval torture device.

When I was a kid, I had a storybook (I’m thinking the Arabian Nights, but I could be wrong) with an actual medicine ball in it. The king in the story had leprosy, or something similarly horrible. His physician made a leather ball permeated with medicine and told the king to exercise with it until he worked up a sweat. The medicine worked its way out of the ball and entered the king’s pores, and lo and behold, he was cured.

Anybody know where this comes from, and whether people tried this sort of thing in real life?

Madicine Balls were originally developed in Russia, I belive as a form of physical therapy for wounded soildiers during WWII.

Their main atribute was that they were cheap.

I assume that from there they were taken up by the west.

“Madicine Balls were originally developed in Russia, I belive as a form of physical therapy for wounded soildiers during WWII.”

Second World War?! I distinctly recall seeing an old newsreel of one of the 1920s Republican presidents (probably Coolidge, but I might be wrong) playing medicine ball with his Cabinet on the White House lawn.

It was Herbert Hoover who loved medicine balls. I believe he developed a volleyball like game using medicine balls which was dubbed “Hooverball.”

I don’t believe hit the medicine balls the same way volleyballs are hit however.