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What Are Chinese Medicine Balls?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

More traditionally known as Boading balls, Chinese medicine balls are small steel balls that are designed to be held in the hands for exercise, meditation, or relaxation. These balls will very often be hollow, and a chime is positioned inside the ball to make a slight noise when the balls touch each other. Chinese medicine balls are believed to have originated in Boading, China during the Ming dynasty, and they have endured through the centuries because of their meditation and health benefits. The balls can be used to increase hand strength and dexterity, or to help a patient recover from a hand injury.

The most basic exercise a person can do with Chinese medicine balls involves holding both balls in one hand and rotating them slowly, first clockwise and then counterclockwise. This motion helps strengthen the muscles of the hands and fingers, and it can help improve dexterity and mobility. Further, the motion of the Chinese medicine balls around the hand can help stimulate blood flow to the hands and fingers, thereby promoting faster healing of injuries. Some more advanced users will attempt to rotate the balls around the hand, either clockwise or counterclockwise, while trying to prevent the balls from touching each other at any point throughout the motion.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Some of the benefits of using Chinese medicine balls include stress relief and relaxation. Many traditional medicine practitioners believe the balls will touch trigger points that can affect many other parts of the body, so gently massaging those pressure points with the balls will help relax the body and relieve pain. As a form of meditation, the relaxation balls can help a person focus on the soothing motion of the balls in the hands, thereby helping that person become more relaxed, focused, and meditative. The spinning motion of the balls can be done in either the left or right hand; alternating hands periodically can help spread the benefits of the practice throughout the body.

Traditionally, Chinese medicine balls were made from iron, though many modern versions are made from chrome-plated steel. Crafting steel is much easier and the balls will be somewhat lighter than iron, making them easier to handle, especially for users with smaller hands. Basic models feature a chrome shine, while others may feature various painted designs that give the balls an added aesthetic appeal. Most Chinese medicine balls will be sold in a carrying box that is also very often highly decorative, usually with Chinese design styles.

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