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Baoding balls are metal balls that usually come in pairs of two and are used to improve strength and dexterity in the hands, as well as for meditation. They are named for the town of Baoding, China, where it is believed they originated. They are held together in the palm of one hand and rotated. Those who are adept at using baoding balls can rotate the balls at a rather high speed and can also keep the balls from touching one another while they are in rotation. In may cases, the balls are made out of metal and have an chime inside so that they make a pleasing, low ringing noise while they are in use.
There are a number of names that are used for baoding balls. Common names include Chinese exercise balls, Chinese meditation balls, Chinese health balls, and Chinese stress balls. There are as many benefits associated with baoding balls as there are names. Some people assert that baoding balls are beneficial for one's health because they stimulate many acupuncture areas on the palms of the hands. These assertions are largely dismissed by medical professionals in the West. The balls are used in the West, however, for some kinds of physical therapy treatments.
When baoding balls are used in clinical settings, they are usually rather plain and made out of a polished metal such as steel. There are, however, a number of companies that sell baoding balls that are decorated or made out of semi-precious stones. In most cases, when these kinds of balls have a decorated exterior, the decoration is created in cloisonne. While these baoding balls might be quite beautiful, they are much more likely to become damaged. If they fall to the ground, the cloisonne may chip, causing the exterior of the balls to become uneven, which can make them hard or even harmful to use.
There are a number of kinds of semi-precious stones that are used to make baoding balls. These balls are available in adventurine, quartz, jade, agate, labradorite, and various kinds of jasper. Much like the cloisonne balls, these kinds of stone balls may chip or crack it they are dropped.
Another variation has to do with size. Companies that sell baoding balls today often sell them in various sizes. Size can be chosen according to preference and intended therapeutic uses.
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