7 Medicine Ball Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

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CrossFitter meet Medicine Ball. Medicine Ball meet CrossFitter.

1. Ancient Persians were the first to use medicine balls as a training tool

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Based on ancient drawing and writings, the medicine ball dates back to around 3,000 years ago, when Persian wrestlers would train with animal bladders stuffed with sand.

2. Hippocrates was one of the earliest humans to use medicine balls as a form of therapy

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Ever wondered why it’s called a medicine ball? Around 400 B.C., Greek physician and philosopher Hippocrates made his patients throw around sand-filled leather balls for rehabilitation purposes. He believed that strength training helped cure many health problems.

3. Medicine balls helped calm seasickness

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In the navy, doctors advised their sailors to throw the balls around the ship’s deck. This supposedly helped the men get rid of boredom and avoid seasickness.

4. The Chinese have their own version of the medicine ball

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China’s version of the medicine ball actually consists of two balls instead of one. Called “Baoding balls,” they are usually made of solid iron or steel, and are rotated repeatedly in the palm of one’s hand to improve dexterity and strength. It is thought that Baoding balls were invented during the Ming dynasty, anywhere from 1368-1644.

5. It’s one of the “Four Horsemen of Fitness”

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Because it had the ability to hit a wide range of muscle groups an, it was seen as a crucial pinnacle of exercise. So along with the dumbbell, the wand, and the Indian club, the medicine ball became part of what is known as the “Four Horsemen of Fitness.”

6. President Herbert Hoover popularized the medicine ball

During his term in office, President Hoover became overweight and out of shape. To improve his health, he took up a game popular among sailors, albeit with a few iterations. Hoover’s version involved two teams throwing a medicine ball over a net (just like today’s volleyball, but heavier!) And thus in 1931, Hoover-ball was born and the medicine ball finally came into American consciousness.

7. The Wallball Shot is now 13 years old

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The Wallball Shot was invented by CrossFit HQ and it first appeared on CrossFit.com back in March 8, 2001. That means one of our most hated CrossFit movements is now 13 years old! Oh how time flies!