Search stress balls on the internet and you will find a thousand websites trying to sell you wholesale lots with your logo that you can give out at trade shows or to your employees. However, what does it do? Besides give your employees something to throw around the office when the boss is not looking there is an actual method behind the madness.

It is believed that these small foam balls that fit in the palm of your hand provide you with a place to focus other than the problem at hand. Just the simple act of squeezing the foam ball with all of your might can displace enough energy to slow down the adrenaline overdose pumping through your body. In today’s society, the high pressure of desk jobs has begun to induce our age-old fight or flight instinct. Being trapped at a desk and faced with mental challenges, however, we have no ability to fight or flee so we are left to sit on all those hormones that can actually be transferred to illness. With that idea the stress ball was born.

Nevertheless, that tiny ball has other uses as well. It is actually a good exercise for carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritic patients. The repetitive exercise works against most of the repetitive actions that cause carpal tunnel. For instance if you are a data entry person and you spend your days typing, the motion of squeezing the stress ball every few hours or so gives your hands time to relax and the swelling will reduce.

Arthritis actually worsens when the joints go unused. A vicious cycle cripples many people each year, arthritis actually causes pain in the joints, which instinctively would cause a person to stop using said joint. Lack of use, in turn, causes muscle stiffness that puts more pressure on the joint. Many arthritics are told to seek out aqua-aerobics programs that provided low-impact places to both take the pressure off the joints and keep the muscles in shape. For arthritis in the fingers The American Arthritis Foundation suggests squeezing the stress balls with your entire hand under warm water (such as in a pool, hot tub, or bath) to relieve many symptoms.

While they may be seen as a great marketing tool, or just plain office toys, the stress ball is a very useful object. Who knew that just a simple foam ball covered in vinyl and emblazoned with your company logo could bring relief to so many people.