Look around your house and look for something that’s extremely cumbersome. You’re likely to take note of your fridge. Unless it’s designed for some degree of portability, your refrigerator isn’t easy to move around. You’d need help to do that—a relative, professional movers, anyone–unless you’re scared enough, that is. Behold the power of the adrenaline rush.
Making Superhumans From Ordinary Folk
Adrenaline-induced strength is proof of the phrase, “mind over matter.” It’s literally your mind that makes you stronger. The feeling of fear stimulates the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that maintains the balance between stress and relaxation.
Imminent danger causes the hypothalamus to send a signal to your adrenal glands. This sends the body to an excited and extremely alert state, courtesy of the sympathetic system’s activation. Adrenaline is released, and this hormone causes an increase in heart rate, as well as muscle contractions. An increased heart rate supplies more nutrients to the muscles (i.e. nutrient-rich blood) and makes them much stronger.
How Strong Can Adrenaline Make You?
A rush of adrenaline can literally make you lift a car. Really. Several years ago, two women managed to lift a 1.1-ton car off a young boy’s body because of this. Neighbors Donna McNamee and Abigail Sicolo were subsequently dubbed “superwomen” after lifting a Renault Clio hatchback over a boy it had just run over. When asked how they did it, they couldn’t give an answer other than feeling the need to save a life.
That’s the power of adrenaline. But there’s one truth to it: you can’t be like this all the time. It’s because, in such situations, you’re extremely stressed. And too much stress will kill you. The human body isn’t exactly designed to lift that much weight unless you’re training to be a lifter yourself. Stress wears the body down by weakening the immune system. If yours is working sub-optimally, you’re open to infection.
So, just be thankful that you have a sudden burst of superhuman strength when you need it most.