Sunday, March 4, 2012

De stress w ancient Chinese therapy

I came across this ancient de stressor. I was looking for hand therapy items, and found baoding balls (pronounced bo-ding), they are also known as Chinese Exercise Balls, Chinese Therapy Balls, Chinese Stress Balls, and Chinese Health Balls are believed to have originated in Baoding, China, a small town in the Heibei province, during the reign of the Ming Dynasty.

Looking for a good hand and finger exercise? Play a musical instrument? Baoding Balls and Chinese exercise balls will build up your finger coordination and hand strength. You can practice  almost anywhere when you are watching tv, bored, or just waiting around. 

Dr. Oz recommends them as well!

Although he does not show how they are actually used:

Baoding balls are usually used for exercise and meditation, but are also good when employed for medical reasons. To use them for exercise, place two Baoding balls within your palm then rotate them clockwise and counterclockwise. Gravity will help you keep on controlling the balls. There are many exercises possible. One is trying to not to let the balls touch one another during manipulation, as advanced users do. Such users of Baoding balls can frequently use more than two balls at one time. Manipulating the balls in your hand not only exercises hand muscles, but forearm and shoulder muscles as well.

Alternative Medicine advocates believe that the balls are beneficial for medical reasons when they touch pressure points or acupuncture points found all over the hand. A practitioner of western medicine would find it hard to believe that such balls have health benefits, but it helps to realize that practitioners of Chinese medicine believe that all bodily systems are linked to one another. Chinese medicine advocates believe one should not just treat symptoms but rather should examine the root cause of the symptoms. In connection, Baoding balls could be prescribed by a Chinese doctor with a patient whose internal energy or Qi has stagnated and thus, caused the problems for the patient.

As a beginner you should first start off with two balls that are not too big (average adult hand 40 mm, smaller hand 35mm). Practice rotating them in your hand. At first you will probably be clanking the balls together just trying to get them moving. Concentrate on rotating the balls smoothly so they are not hitting each other. Start slowly and get faster as you improve. Once you can handle the smaller balls, move on to bigger exercise balls.

* I am post op w carpal tunnel surgeries (both hands!) and have tried 35- 55mm sizes, the 40mm feels most comfortable. Reversing the direction is more difficult than it looks! I am a total beginner, and can only use the baoding balls touching together.  I use them every day, while watching tv or on the phone, while reading, etc & my physical therapist said they are great for using the hand motion needed to heal the nerve & tone the muscles, tendons & ligaments.

Because I have sensitive skin, I decided to avoid any of the decorated or cloisonne balls, as paints or metals could irritate, be toxic, and can chip if you use the balls touching together. 

I do NOT recommend the glass boding balls because the ones I got were very flawed with uneven, pitted, and not totally smooth surfaces, like I envisioned glass to be. 

Although the Banded Onyx baoding balls are smooth & nice. (in the solid baoding ball category & are $8.95 for 38mm) (Shown to the left)

I chose the stainless steel/chrome type, because as a beginner, you can drop them w/o breaking... they also have beautiful gemstone baoding balls that cost 2x as much or more & they are heavier.
Sodalite shown below:

Many come with a cool silk storage box w latch (included w price), or a velour pouch & the steel baoding balls start at $7.95 plus shipping. 

They also have a bargain bin $2.98 of 38 mm baoding balls, but you get what you get, you don't choose the style. 

Found these at: Baoding ball website

Chinese medicine practitioners believe that the body's Qi ("chi") flows through pathways known as meridians.  There are 12 meridians in the body and each is related to a particular organ.  For thousands of years, acupuncture doctors would use needles inserted into a person's meridian to affect the flow of the internal energy.  The acupuncture doctors have studied which organs are connected to Yin energy or to Yang energy and what points of the body they must stimulate to treat the condition.  By the same theory, using pressure (Acupressure) can also stimulate the meridians through massage. 

In your hand, there are several meridians and acupressure points connected to your organs.  By using Baoding Balls in your hands, these points can be stimulated to affect the energy flow of your organs.  To increase Yang energy, the balls should be rotated quickly to increase the temperature and in a clockwise directly.  To increase Yin energy, they should be rotated slowly and in a counter-clockwise directly. 

Using Baoding Balls in this way to affect the body's energy has given them the name of Chinese Health Balls.  However, practice with these balls has health benefits in addition to balancing the flow of Qi.  Regular use of the health balls will improve and stimulate the circulation of the fingers.  The exercise will also strengthen the muscles of your hands and fingers.

If you are suffering from the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome or feel the onset of the condition, using Baoding Balls can help manage your condition.  Rotating the balls will stretch out the tendons and warm up the hands and wrist.  Regularly performing short warming up exercises  for the wrist before engaging in activities with intensive or long periods of wrist activity can prevent and avoid the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.  

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