Stress balls are small, egg-shaped objects filled with either malleable gel or microbeads. They usually are not more than seven centimeters in diameter, as their primary purpose is to be squeezed. Stress balls are known to relieve stress and muscle tension and accelerate an injured hand’s healing process.
There are several types of stress balls. The most common is the bean bag type. There are also others with foam fillings and the not-so-squeezable Baoding balls in China. Stress balls in physical therapy contain gel-like fillers inside a rubber or cloth skin. Other types use fine powder – you can make one by filling a balloon with flour or baking soda.
Meanwhile, isoflex stress balls are filled with microbeads wrapped in a double-lined natural latex for extra durability.
How Do Stress Balls Work?
Every one of us most likely experienced stress at one point in our lives. Some experienced it almost every day of their lives. It is normal, but that does not mean that it is harmless. Stress takes a toll on our overall well-being, including our emotional, mental, and physical health.
Stress can cause headaches, muscle tension, irregular heart beating, and sleep problems. If left unchecked, it may lead to serious health problems like cardiac arrest, hypoxemia, or severe insomnia.
When we are stressed, our bodies tighten up. As a first-aid solution, we need to release this negative energy into something. Do you recall someone (or yourself) throwing something out of frustration, anger, or helplessness?
Well, we are not throwing anything here. It turns out that a stress ball can help! Although it may not be a long-term solution for stress (hey, you can’t expect those balls to finish your tasks), it can still release your body tension at the moment.
Squeezing a stress ball reminds our body to relax the tense muscles when we are anxious, thereby avoiding complications such as headaches or body pain.
What’s inside an isoflex stress ball?
Not all stress balls are made the same. Isoflex stress balls have microbead filling that is firmer than foam and gel-based balls. It has a double-line latex skin that allows you to squeeze, twist, pull, and pound the ball, and it will automatically return to its original shape. The microbead filling looks and feels like sparkly white sand.
Are Isoflex Stress Balls Toxic?
Microbeads are factory-made solid plastic particles measuring less than one millimeter in dimension. They are commonly made of polyethylene, polypropylene, or polystyrene. These materials allow the stress balls to “breathe.”
Many think of microbeads as bean bags, but they are much firmer. When used inside a stress ball, they could be very therapeutic. That is why it is more popular than foam and gel-types.
Polyethylene, polypropylene, and polystyrene are non-toxic plastics. Any microplastic larger than 0.15 millimeters in size (about the size of a fine sand grain) can easily pass through our body without issues. However, there is only a little information about their toxicity at micro-levels. The problem might occur if these microbeads were smaller than 0.15 mm. There is no back-up study for this, but it is better to be safe than sorry, right?
Experts said that they might have the possibility to bind with other toxins like PCBs because of their irregular shape and static charge.
Adverse Effects of Micro beads on Aquatic Life
Microbeads, like all plastics, do not degrade easily. If they found their ways to bodies of water, it could be potentially harmful to marine animals. When microbeads are in the water, they bio-accumulate. That means they could bind with other microplastics that are potentially harmful. Animals such as the zooplanktons then mistake them for food. Bigger creatures feed on zooplanktons, which will ultimately be consumed by humans.
When we consume seafood that has ingested microbeads, there is a possibility that these nano-particles can migrate through the intestinal wall during digestion. However, whether they can travel through the bloodstream is yet to be answered.
Another study found out that plastic ingestion affects the behavior of fishes. Microbeads lodged on fishes’ brains cause them to eat slower and stay in one place most of the time. As for humans, there is still no evidence that microplastics can travel all the way up to our brains.