The use of Chinese exercise balls is based on the theory of jing luo (merdians) and xue (acupuncture points). Two or more balls are placed in the palm and manipulated by the hand and fingers. As the balls are rotated clockwise and counter-clockwise by the finger movements vital acupuncture points in the hand are stimulated.
Exercising with Chinese health balls is intended to restore energy and blood flow to the brain, muscle, and bones, and as a result improve overall health and ultimately prolong life. According to Chinese medicine the ten fingers are connected to the cranial nerve, and the body's vital organs (heart, liver, spleen, lungs, kidneys, gallbladder, and stomach).
History of Chinese Exercise BallsTraditional Chinese exercise balls date back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Original balls were solid. Later the balls were made hollow and were generally made from metal. Sounding plates are housed inside a paired set of metal exercise balls creating chime sounds when they are handled. One sounds high representing "yin" and the other sounds low representing "yang."
Today you can find a variety of exercise balls sculpted from different mediums (wood, metal, and stone). Many of them are quite beautiful and have artistic value. Metal balls are the most commonly used for exercise because they are more durable, and the metal health balls are also considered to be the most therapeutic.
Choosing Exercise Balls Right for YouChinese exercise balls typically are sold in pairs. BoadingBalls.com recommends children use the balls measuring 30 millimeters while tall adults can rely on the balls measuring up to 60 millimeters. For an average woman, 35mm to 40mm balls are recommended and 40 to 50 mm balls are suggested for an average man. Smaller balls are recommended if you wish to advance your exercise by manipulating 3, 4, or even 5 balls together in your hand.
Other Names for Chinese Exercise Balls
- Baoding balls
- Chinese Therapy Balls
- Chinese Stress Balls
- Chinese Health Balls
- Yin and Yang Balls
Note: The set of metal therapy balls shown in the photos along with this article were originally owned by my mother-in-law when she was still living. Anne was never quite able to handle both balls in just one hand due to crippling arthritis in both her hands. This was not due to the lack of trying. Even so, she experienced joy handling them. She liked clanging them gently into one another to sound the chimes. These Chinese exercise balls certainly were therapeutic for her.
References: alternativehealing.org, boadingballs.com
image © 2010 Phylameana lila Desy