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Chinese exercise balls help build muscles in your hands and forearms and are believed to relieve stress and improve focus. The balls are designed to put pressure on reflex points on the hand, which also is a technique used in acupressure and acupuncture therapies. Also called Baoding balls and Chinese stress balls, they are usually made of metal or stone and come in various sizes so you can increase the intensity of your hand workout when you're ready.
Choose a small set of two Chinese exercise balls to start, such as 35 millimeters or 40 millimeters in diameter. Once you've mastered some of the exercises, you can use a larger set to increase the difficulty of the moves.
Place one ball in the palm of one hand. Cup your hand around the ball and use your fingertips to turn the ball. Practice holding your hand at different angles until you find one that allows the ball to rotate freely without falling. Once you can easily turn the ball in one direction, switch the direction of the rotation. This helps increase your finger dexterity. Repeat the exercises with your other hand.
Continue holding one ball in your hand. Place your thumb on one side of the ball so the ball rests gently on the inner curve of the thumb. Press the tip of your index finger against the ball to hold it steady. Lift your index finger and replace it with your middle finger, swapping fingers quickly to keep the ball from falling. Continue with your other two fingers, then repeat in reverse order -- start with your pinkie and move up to your index finger. Repeat with your other hand. The goal of this exercise is to move between fingers as rapidly as possible without dropping the ball.
Hold two balls in your hand once you've mastered the one-ball techniques. Hold one under your ring finger and pinkie and the other with your thumb, index and middle fingers. Rotate the balls around your hand using your fingers. Push a ball toward your thumb with your ring finger and pinkie as your push one from your thumb up to your index and middle fingers. Use those fingers to push a ball over to your ring finger and pinkie as they release one toward the thumb. This move takes practice, but it works your forearm and hand muscles. Ideally, you should have enough control that the balls don't touch each other during the rotation. Increase the difficulty by switching the direction of the rotation. You can then increase the size of the balls or add a third ball for more intensity. Repeat all the exercises with the other hand as well to develop them equally.
- Some of the balls are heavier than others, so take care when practicing. Always wear shoes and practice over a rug to prevent injury to your feet or to the floor and exercise balls when you drop them.