Chinese Therapy Balls
Basic Chinese ball therapy (also known as "baoding balls") involves two metal balls that are rotated about in the palm of your hand. The Chinese have used this exercise for centuries to promote well-being. At first, the therapy balls were solid iron but later evolved into hollow metal balls containing chiming metal plates.
As the balls move about the hand, they make contact with the acupuncture points on your palm. This facilitates the flow of energy, or chi, throughout the body. Therapy balls also work the joints and muscles in both your forearm and fingers, stretching and strengthening them.
For beginners, the recommended size of each ball is 35 to 45 mm, depending on the size of your hand. People with extra large hands can start at 50 mm.
The basic technique is to rotate two balls clockwise:
- With your thumb push down on one ball, as you
- Pull the second ball up using your fingers, and
- Pass it to the thumb, and the circle continues
Once you have the basic rotation mastered you can challenge yourself by rotating the balls without allowing them to touch, or while your palm is facing down (you might want to wear steel-toed slippers for that one).
Another practice is rotating the balls counterclockwise, eventually being able to go from clockwise to counterclockwise and back without a hitch. When that becomes easy, add a third ball and go back to practicing a basic rotation.
Some people with arthritis report relief from joint swelling and pain after using therapy balls, and they help those with carpal tunnel syndrome keep their joints loose. Musicians, artists, or athletes might utilize the balls as a warm up, or to relax their hands after an activity. Rotating the balls also relieves stress, improves coordination, stimulates blood circulation, and can be used during meditation.
Since the balls originated in Boading, China, they are sometimes called boading balls. Other people call them Chinese stress balls, or health balls. Today, most of them are made of chrome-coated stainless steel; some are painted with exquisite designs. Therapy balls are easy to find and purchase on the web.