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There’s an ancient Chinese secret, a simple hand exercise, that can profoundly improve your hand dexterity, while also relieving stress, improving memory, improving sleep, and improving your hand strength. This “secret” is simply using Baoding balls. Rotating these small balls in your hand requires patience, diligence, focus, and dexterity. And with a little practice, almost anyone can improve hand function with these Baoding ball hand strength exercises.
What are Baoding Balls?
Baoding balls are small balls that are most commonly made of stainless steel or chrome, and can also be made of other materials, including marble, stone, jade, wood, plastic. The balls can be solid or hollow with chimes inside. The balls can be smooth or textured for additional hand benefits. The balls can be colorful and ornate, or with a simple metallic finish.
Baoding balls are also known as meditation balls, stress balls, worry balls, harmony balls, yin-yang balls, or medicine Balls. When used everyday, for as little as 10 minutes, your hands can be transformed.
The History of Baoding Balls
Baoding balls were first invented about 3,500 years ago, during the Ming Dynasty, in Baoding, a small town in the North China Plain. The balls were originally walnut shells that you could rotate in your hand, and were used by soldiers to improve hand strength and hand dexterity to make them more formidable foes. As metal manufacturing technologies advanced, the balls were made of iron. Carrying around these solid balls of iron also meant that they could be used as weapons, further captivating both soldiers and the general population. To further cement the lore of the Baoding balls, Emperor Qialong of the Qing Dynasty, attributed his longevity and great health to daily usage of his own Baoding balls.
Why Hand Grip Strength and Hand Dexterity Matters
Our hands are a crucial part of our everyday lives. We use our hands for everything, from buttoning our shirt, to making a phone call, to taking a sip of water. Our hands are the tool that allows us to interact with the physical world. Despite the importance of our beloved hands, we tend to abuse them. We all know the benefits of exercise, sleep, or a healthy diet, but we rarely do hand exercises, hand strength exercises, or hand dexterity exercises. In fact, hand conditions like carpal tunnel, hand arthritis, and trigger finger are on the rise because of the prolific growth of mobile device use combined with the fact that people are living longer.
Hand exercises allow us to strengthen our fingers and thumbs, giving us more control over how we use our hands to do the things we love. Having less hand pain and greater hand dexterity, which almost anyone can obtain through hand dexterity exercises, can provide us an increase in quality of life. We can all enjoy the smaller things in life, such as enjoying a cup of coffee, holding a loved one’s hand, or simply paying for groceries. Simply be incorporating hand exercises, or hand strength exercises, into our daily lives, can make all the difference in the world.
And shockingly, new research has shown that grip strength can be a better indicator of cardiovascular disease than either blood pressure or physical activity, and a better indicator of longevity!
Unfortunately, it’s not until an injury or chronic pain begins that we realize how important our hands are. At Jamber, we are so deeply committed to improving everyone’s hand health, because hand health matters. Your hand health matters.
Baoding balls are a convenient and easy tool that you can do everyday to almost immediately improve your grip strength, wrist strength, and hand dexterity. Baoding balls benefits are numerous, and are easily achievable by almost anyone.
Baoding Balls Benefits
Baoding balls are usually used two at a time, with the balls touching, in a circular motion in your hand. This can improve finger dexterity, range of motion, fine motor skills, and increase hand strength before or after an injury. As your fingers are rotating the balls, many of the small intrinsic muscles within our hands are getting the exercise they need. These hand strength exercises and hand dexterity exercises are fun and easy to do.
As you become better at using Baoding balls, you can rotate them faster, or you can rotate them without the balls touching, or you can rotate them in the opposite direction. With more practice, you can incorporate additional balls, so you’re using 3 or 4 or 5 balls at once. You can use hollow balls that have chimes, and are lighter. Or, you can use solid balls that are heavier, and better for improving hand strength. You can use smaller balls which are easier to rotate, or larger balls that are harder to rotate. But, what is most important, is that you pick up a set of Baoding balls and simply use them. You don’t have to go fast, you don’t have to be good at it….you just need to start moving your hands to benefit from these simple hand exercises.
Moving our hands means that we’re stretching tendons. We’re working out the hand muscles. We’re getting synovial fluid to flow into our joints. We’re gaining all sorts of hand benefits from using Baoding balls.
Other Baoding balls benefits can include improved sleep, increased relaxation, decreased stress, or better memory. Unfortunately, there have been no real medical studies around these benefits (yet!); however, there are thousands of years of anecdotes of the many benefits of using Baoding balls every day. Using Baoding balls everyday are incredibly effective hand exercises, or more specifically they are both hand strength exercises and hand dexterity exercises. The many Baoding balls benefits that your hands will gain from doing this fun activity are quite impressive.
1-Minute Baoding Drills For Improved Hand Dexterity
You can do these drills as hand dexterity exercises to more quickly improve your hand dexterity. When you're done, you can "relax" your hand by repeating Drill 1 for 2-5 minutes for each hand.
Drill 1 (1-minute): Rotate balls, with the balls touching each other, clockwise
Drill 2 (1-minute): Rotate balls, with the balls touching each other, counter-clockwise
Drill 3 (1-minute): Rotate balls, with the balls not touching each other, clockwise
Drill 4 (1-minute): Rotate balls, with the balls not touching each other, counter-clockwise
When should I use Baoding balls?
Baoding balls can be used at anytime of day. However, since Baoding balls have stress-reducing benefits, we often use them first thing in the morning, during our lunch break, and right before we go to bed. We generally do both hands at the same time (we have 2 sets of the same Baoding balls!), so that we’re not favoring one hand over the other. And we only do them for 5-10 minutes at a time. We also do the 1-minute drills during our lunch break, and then do speed drills at night and in the morning. It’s amazing that you can do hand exercises so easily throughout your day!
Join a Free Baoding Ball Class Today
Jamber offers free classes every week to improve your hand health. One of these free classes is the Hand Dexterity Baoding Ball Class. It’s a 15-minute LIVE class that does simple 1-minute drills (similar to the ones we shared above) to teach anyone how to use Baoding balls for healthier hands, and to practice Baoding balls together. Join us for these easy and fun hand strength exercises and hand dexterity exercises!
Crist I, Reuters Health (2018). Strong Grip May Predict Longer Life at All Ages
MacAuley D, Bauman A, Fremont P, British Journal of Sports Medicine (n.d.). Exercise: not a miracle cure, just good medicine.
Mindworks. (n.d.). History, Benefits, and Uses of Meditation Balls
Pikorn I, Insight Timer (n.d.). Everything You Need to Know About Baoding Balls.
A&E Television Networks, History.com (2018). Ming Dynasty.
Pelissier R, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Institute for Advanced Research (2018). Qianlong, Emperor of Qing Dynasty.