Stories of mothers lifting cars off trapped children

You hear of this a lot when talking about adrenaline but has there ever really been a reported case like this before? Sometimes I think it’s just an urban legend sort of thing. I’d like to believe it happens sometimes. Is there like any one famous case?

I think I found one online years ago while surfing but I couldn’t remember where I found it, sometimes I think it might have been a spoof.

If such stories are real, imagine if somebody could train to harness such strength at will.

I’m probably sounding silly right now.

It’s adrenalyn. My grandmother did it to help my uncle once. It’s not like superman picking the whole thing up, it was more along the lines of lifting it enough that my uncle could roll out.

Dr. Bruce Banner tried to harness that strength. There were a few side effects.:slight_smile:

My stepfather rolled over an MG sports car back in the 60s. His dad was following in another car, and saw the accident. He lifted the MG high and long enough for his son to crawl out from under it.

Well, sometimes it takes TWO people to do it:

Chicago Daily Herald
August 29, 2000
SECTION: News; Pg. 1

HEADLINE: Teens earn praise for lifting car to rescue trapped man

Two teens today will start their senior years at Barrington High School as heroes.

Branden Burkhardt, 18, of Barrington and Scott Bensen, 17, of Barrington Hills took quick action Wednesday afternoon, lifting the car under which Scott’s father Mark had become trapped when it fell on him while he was working on it. The car had slipped off a jack and pinned him to the ground. Their swiftness, rescue officials say, may have saved Mark Bensen’s life…

Yeah. He turned into a pacifist.

Having adrenalin at certain moments will help to some degree, but sometimes these stories get exaggerated, or they are just sadly mistaken about the facts altogether. I remember one such story on a TV show a few years back, that had a heavy set man, that was supposed to lift a 3,000 lb (forgot the actually weight used) helicopter off of a man trapped below. A lot of grunting went on, and I don‘t remember if prayers were also involved, but many were saying this was a feat of super human strength that just wasn’t humanly possible. When you watched the footage, it’s clear to see he wasn’t lifting any where near the actual weight of the helicopter, but they used the weight of what the total helicopter weighed, anyway. Must have been a slow news day, and they needed a story. They found a man, an crowd that were all too happy to build it up.


No it’s not.

Adrenaline can let people do some amazing things, as can certain drugs. Here is an experiment you can try at home: Take some sturdy object that you can hold easily in your hand, and squeeze it as hard as you can. You will notice that you stop squeezing when your hand starts to hurt a certain amount.

Leprosy illustrates this concept very dramatically. Lepers often appear to be very strong as a result of the degeneration of the nerves that would convey when enough is enough. When a leper picks something up they must be very careful about how hard they squeeze; they can easily end up tearing their muscle and tendons apart (your muscles really are that strong). One of the things adrenaline does is block out pain, so if a tiger has torn gashes in you it will still be possible for you to escape instead of gasping in agony. This can also allow you to leap small buildings in a single bound and move weight you would not be able to otherwise, at the cost of damage to your body. After an adrenaline-induced feat of strength that person will probably need to take it easy for a while and let the torn muscle heal.

In regards to harnessing this strength at will, we do a certain amount of that already. When getting “pumped up” before a game football players will slap themselves and each other, bumping helmets together and the like. This gets them into the mood of how much force, and damage, is acceptable at the moment. You bump chests with your buddy a couple of times and then when you mow down an opposing team member your nerves sniff and say that they have seen worse.

The mental feedback mentioned above has a very conscious component as well, one which martial arts training can help you overcome, even wth an adrenaline surge.

A crude example: every year Many children die because they are ‘locked’ behind a wall (for example: they lock themselves in a bathroom, and as daddy and mommy panic on the other side of the wall, proceed to sample the tantalizing chemicals in the cabinets or under the sink.) Similarly, I’ve seen many a strong man injure their shoulder by bashing it against a wall. BUT…

Try taking a 3 lb brick (1350g) , and dropping it 4-5ft (130-150cm) from one hand to the other. It’s an easy catch. Now drop that same brick from the same height onto a 16" wide strip of normal gypsum wallboard (you can choose the length, 16" is the standard space betweent studs in US house framing) You might break the wallboard or merely damage it, but you’ll get a sense for how fragile the walls in our houses are. If you’d used a 11lb (5kg) cinderblock, the wall would likely be a goner, yet the force would be so modest that even a child can catch a cinderblock dropped 4-5ft.

This isn’t a definitive scientific demonstration, just an eye-opening exercise. The “walls” that restrain us in our daily lifes are more mental than physical. any 98lb weakling can walk straight through standard gypsum walls at will, with a little thought and inspection.

Similarly, any serious weight lifter has had the experience of being ‘unable’ to lift a given weight, due to improper mindset, and then easily lifting it --and more-- after reframing their thinking for a few minutes. It’s not the muscles that stop them, it’s the mind.

We have a complex set of reflexes in out brain and spinal cords which act to modulate the force we exert in daily life, for practical reasons, for precision, and also to protect our own muscles, ligaments, etc. from injury. After a few decades of operating under these ‘rules’ they can be very hard to overcome. However in an emergency, we may unthinkingly exert genuinely maximal contraction, and generate forces we never knew we had.

Never arm wrestle a wild chimp, though you have the same or more muscle mass and 99.9%+ similar muscle physiology. They will crush you, not because of a slightly more advantageous joint geometry, but because they have greater experience with maximal exertion.

KP, that is a serious amount of pseudo-mystical claptrap. I sense the influence of reality-distorting martial arts charlatans and conmen in your past.

Lets start from the end of your post and work forward

Ummm…no. The superior strength of chimps has nothing to do with “greater experience with maximal exertion” and everything to do with muscle insertions, relative joint size, bone length, and leverage.

Think about it this way; if “greater experience with maximal exertion” was the reason for chimp’s greater strength, then baby chimps and baby humans would be approximately as strong. since that isn’t so, your reasoning is flawed.

At the other end of the spectrum, Bulgarian weightlifters train 6 days a week, eight hours a day (really!!!), attempting max lifts several times a day. They also take steroids. They’re still weaker than chimps.

I have a silver medal in olympic-style weightlifting in the California state games. Do I qualify as a serious weight lifter?

Based on my experience, the few minutes rest would help the lift a hell of a lot more than the “changed” mindset.

Really? I’ve never seen that. You must have a more exciting life than me, what with all the strong men rushing shoulder-first into walls in your house.

Tell them next time to hit the wall between the supports, if you can stop them before they run kamikaze-like shoulder-first into the wall by the hundreds.

Ahhh…but for the absence of doors…

And I’m sorry KP, this just isn’t true either. I have done a lot of remodeling, which requires tearing down these walls. Believe me, no one is going to walk straight through one. At least not with out a lot of effort.

My mother was so annoyed with me and my siblings making a lot of noise that she lifted a volkswagen and hurled it at us. I then realized how annoyed she must have been. :wink:

KP: Never arm wrestle a wild chimp

hee hee. Can I sigfile that?

Cecil agrees!