Eli5: How and why does beer armour work?



We’ve all seen people either personally or in videos taking a pretty serious tumble while drunk. Why do they seem to be able to get back up seemingly unhurt? I mean from personal experience I know that falling while drunk may not hurt at the time but it should of. What makes us seemingly impervious to pain whilst drunk?

In: Biology

1) Alcohol can make you tense up less when falling so can be more flexible during the fall.
2) Alcohol can keep you from realizing you’re hurt or from feeling the pain, so you may get back up and be ‘ok’ when actually you’ve been hurt.

Alcohol is a pain killer. This is one of the ways that alcohol effects the nerve system as it inhibits nerve activity.

First, alcohol inhibits the sensation of pain, meaning a drunk individual just won’t feel the pain as sharply as someone sober. Second, alcohol relaxes the muscles slightly, meaning that barring landing on something sharp, odds are a drunken individual will not tense up before the impact like a sober person might; in fact, this is part of why learning to fall properly is a large part of martial arts – uncontrolled muscle tension is liable to leave worse damage than relaxed muscles when hitting the ground. Also, a drunk person may look as though they have a nasty fall, but chances are they more like roll softly to the ground like a towel than topple over like a log. That distributes the energy from the impact over time as well as surface, as opposed to hitting the ground with every body part at once.

Obviously, this is a simplification, if not an oversimplification, and I feel compelled to point out that a drunk person is vastly more likely to actually suffer those tumbles than someone sober. 😉

If you look at someone who has developed falling as a skill, like a judo competitor or something, you’ll see that they’re very relaxed as they land. They can be picked up over someone else’s head and slammed into the ground, do it ten times for reps, and be completely unhurt, just through technique and experience. I imagine that severe intoxication gives a bit of that relaxed falling style. And you would feel the injuries less too, since alcohol deadens your senses.