Therapist

Are stress balls bad for your hands

I treat a lot of individuals who are experiencing wrist, thumb and hand problems. A large majority of these individuals come in with pain at the base of the thumb.

With this presentation, it can be quite painful to grip objects and the symptoms can often be aggravated by a repetitive task like cutting with scissors or even using a computer mouse. In my practice, I find that a major contributor to this type of dysfunction is overuse of a specific muscle in the palm of the hand that lies between the thumb and middle finger called the adductor policis muscle.

This commonly overused muscle is especially vulnerable when patients are gripping or manipulating objects which require more power from their hand muscles. Thumb motion is a carefully co-ordinated dance between several muscles and imbalances such as the one mentioned above have consequences.

Using one muscle more than the others puts asymmetrical pressure on the surfaces of the small joint that connects the thumb to the wrist (the 1st carpometacarpal joint). Over time, this joint wears down and becomes painful. It can become reddened and swollen. It is thought to be more common in women because the thumb joint does not fit together quite as well as mens’ and their hands are smaller in general.

Well-intentioned friends will often give sufferers ‘stress balls’ to squeeze to make their hands stronger. Unfortunately, the gripping compounds the problem and the thumb joint swells even more. Squeezing a stress ball overuses the muscle in the palm (the adductor policis muscle) that was the problem in the first place. Stretching the muscle and strengthening the other small muscles around the thumb are key to improving muscle balance.

Believe it or not, the hand has good posture to consider too! Working with a knowledgeable physiotherapist to correct some hand posture habits and sometimes using a brace to support the area can be important strategies to control flare ups. But please do NOT use a stress ball!

Contact us today if you would like to book a consultation with one of physiotherapists and make those hurting hands happy again!

stress balls

Stress balls were originally intended to be used for remedying stress and tension but with their increasing popularity as a stress relief tool, it seems that squeezing it may have other health benefits. Studies show that when you squeeze a stress ball, your nerves and muscles stimulate and contract which makes them stronger. The strength improves the overall nervous system, which reduces essential hormones and can control your stress levels.

Some of the benefits: 

  • Relieve arthritis pains
  • Enhance emotional stability 
  • Reduce anxiety and stress
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve concentration and creativity
  • Strengthen muscles
  • Increased positive energy 
  • Improve sleep

stress balls

Stress Balls May Improve Blood Circulation 

Many doctors recommend using stress balls for improving blood circulation. Studies show that squeezing a ball can raise your heart rate and increase the oxygen levels in your brain. As a result, your heart will pump harder and thus provide better blood circulation. The better your circulation, the lower the risk for stroke, heart attack and high blood pressure. Stress balls also help prevent the development of hypertension and possible heart disease. 

stress balls

More Benefits 

Stress balls are small enough to fit in your pocket, and they are also fairly inexpensive. If you use your stress ball on a regular basis, you may even begin to notice a decrease in your tension. When you have an anxiety attack, your brain starts to get hyperventilating. This causes your body to release adrenaline, which causes your heart rate to increase. By using and squeezing a stress ball, you can relax your mind and take a moment to think about happy thoughts.

stress balls

Ways to Use Stress Balls

By simply squeezing stress balls regularly you can tone your muscles. Regular exercise will help to strengthen the muscles of your hands and wrists. Many individuals keep one of these balls at their work. Regardless of your profession, if you feel tired, bored or irritated you can use one of these balls to keep your hands occupied and your mind at rest.

  1. One of the main ways to use a stress ball is to place it on a surface and roll the ball by curling your fingers towards your palm, hold for a few seconds and release your fingers.
  2. Another popular way is to place a ball between your hands while keeping your arms in a vertical position. Then press for 5 seconds and relax.
  3. The full grip method is our favourite. If you feel extra stressed out, hold and squeeze a ball as hard as you can for up to 5 seconds, then relax. 

reduce stress

Final Thoughts

While stress balls can help with anxiety, stress, blood circulations and more, it is important to remember the results are temporary. In order to find the right balance and improve your overall health, there are many other things that you have to consider. Owning and using a stress ball can not prevent illnesses, diseases or depression, but it can improve those conditions. It is one of the most powerful mindfulness products that can help individuals deal with their condition.

Updated 4/1/20.

Most of us are familiar with stress balls. Whether you have one sitting on your desk right now, or you have seen them used in a comical sense among stressed out office workers on TV, stress balls have become increasingly popular over the years—and for good reason.

Research shows that using a stress ball can actually enhance emotional stability and deliver significant physical benefits. Knowing this, make sure that you not only have stress balls in your workspace but that you provide them for your customers or prospects to help them improve their sense of positive energy.

Here are some commonly asked questions and our answers, along with favorite stress ball activities.

Do Stress Balls Work?

At first glance, it may seem like something so small and simple couldn’t be that effective. But, like the old saying says, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” These small-but-mighty stress relievers truly do work—and that’s based on research and science.

In an interview with the Huffington Post, David Posen, the author of Is Work Killing You?: A Doctor’s Prescription for Treating Workplace Stress, says,

“The benefit of squeezing is that it releases some kind of energy – it also induces you to relax.”

When we’re stressed, our muscles tend to clench, and squeezing a stress ball forces us to release and relax those muscles.

What Are Some Stress Ball Benefits?

So now that we know that they work, let’s highlight some of the stress ball benefits:

  • Relieve arthritis pains
  • Reduce anxiety and stress
  • Promote better sleep
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve concentration and creativity
  • Strengthen muscles

Not Sure How to Use a Stress Ball?

One reason stress balls are so widely used is how easy it is to use them. Here’s a basic and effective outline on how to use a stress ball:

  • Squeeze the stress ball in your left hand for 30 seconds.
  • Pulse it for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat with the right hand.

This video also is a great visual guide on how to use a stress ball.

Best Sellers at National Pen

Any Ideas for Stress Ball Activities?

Of course! These stress ball uses and activities will help you relax both your body and mind.

1. Tone Your Muscles

Even if you aren’t experiencing stress or anxiety, simply squeezing a stress ball firmly in the hands can help to strengthen the muscles of the forearm, wrists, and hands in no time at all. You can do this practically anywhere – while working, at home while watching TV, or even in the car.

2. Relax During Meetings

Many of us feel that our work weeks are nothing more than a series of meetings. If you find yourself getting tired, irritated, bored, or simply disinterested during one of your business meetings, consider using a stress ball to keep your hands occupied and your mind at peace.

3. Play Games with Your Kids

Use your stress ball to play catch with your kids at home, without fear of punching a hole in your window. Other ideas include learning how to juggle, batting practice, and a good old fashioned game of catch.

4. Massage Your Feet

Slip off your shoes and roll your feet on a couple of stress balls on the ground. This can stimulate acupressure points that provide calming benefits, as well as a boost to your creative thinking abilities.

5. Enhance Communication at Home

Ask your kids or spouse how their day was, and then sit back and listen quietly until it is your time to hold the stress ball. This helps to encourage communication while minimizing disruptions.

6. Do a Stress Ball Hunt

Take a break from working and get everyone in the house involved in a stress ball hunt (think of it as a riff on an Easter egg hunt). Choose someone to hide them, and the rest find them. Winner gets a stress ball.

7. Help Your Customers De-Stress

Custom stress balls are great to mail to your customers if you’re not able to see them face to face—check out these ideas for lumpy mail campaigns.

Now that you know the stress ball uses and benefits, check out these favorites:

Round Stress Reliever Ball

Your classic stress ball, in all the colors you could ever want.

Mood Stress Reliever Ball

The heat from your hand makes this stress ball change colors!

Happy Mood Dude Stress Reliever

How could you not smile when you look at this happy guy?

We hope these stress ball activities help you find some peace and relaxation. If you come up with more ideas, tell us on Facebook or Instagram!

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