Warning! Science Content

Sometimes we’re having so much fun, we forget that all of this MythBusting is actually SCIENCE! Follow your curiosity and use the links below to discover more of the science behind the myths at MythBusters: The Explosive Exhibition.

 

Cliff Hanger

The physiology of muscles and bones hold the science behind hanging off a cliff. So how do muscles work? And more importantly, how do they get stronger...just in case you find yourself on a cliff someday?

 
Muscles

Every physical activity you perform—from gripping a ledge to standing at the bus stop—requires muscles. Your muscles get stronger the more you use them. Rock climbers and other athletes have exercise regimens that help strengthen their forearms and hands. Exercise increases your muscle strength by damaging them. Yes, damaging them. When your muscles are damaged (those aches you feel the day after a hard workout), the body heals them during periods of rest. This healing process can make those muscles stronger and more fibrous, which will help you avoid injury, and increase your endurance and strength.

 
Bones

Your hand bones (the phalanges) are actually doing quite a bit of work as you hang off the side of a building or cliff. Yes, they support the muscles in your hands and forearms, but they also can take on quite a bit of your weight to keep your muscles from tiring as quickly.

 
The Crimp Grip

Wrap your thumbs over your pointer finger when you grip the Expert Ledge. This is called a “crimp” grip. Crimping transfers some of your weight from your muscles onto your bones and tendons, lengthening your hang time. However, getting a grip this way comes at the price of putting a lot of pressure on your tendons and joints. Though handy, it’s better to train to make your hands stronger with a standard grip and use the “crimp” only in emergencies.

 

There is currently no world record for the flexed arm hang—with a little practice, the record could be within reach!

 

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