Eli5 Why is it easier for people (kids notably) to put their head between two bars but harder to get it out?


Eli5 Why is it easier for people (kids notably) to put their head between two bars but harder to get it out?

In: Physics

The top of the head is rounded, making it easy to gradually bend bars apart a little to allow the head to slip past. The jaw, on the other hand, is a jutting and angular bone structure. It’s hard to get that to slip into a gap without a lot of pain and risking injury.


A big part of the problem with children is that they get impatient. An adult is likely to take time to try different ways and angles of getting their head out.

A child will panic much more quickly. This leads to difficulty getting them out because they won’t stay still, but also it causes them to resist your efforts.

As noted by someone else, they are also more likely to keep pushing if the bars are giving enough to allow them through. Adults have enough experience to stop trying.

First-hand experience: ears only bend well in one direction. Easier going in then coming back out. Fire department was able to spread the bars. Fun day at the pool.

I had a friend who slipped her head in between two pieces of glass at a reception window. She freaked out when she couldn’t get out. We didn’t want to pull too hard, ya know, broken glass near her throat didn’t seem safe. We ended up lifting her body till she was parallel to the floor and backed her out. It’s all about the angle. She couldn’t recreate it because she was freaking out.

My story is a little different. When I was a small child, my mom came out and found me on the front porch with my head between the metal bars of the railing. “DON’T MOVE!” she commanded. Soon the family and eventually neighbors were gathered, expressing concern. Everyone had their own pet suggestions to get me out — my head was buttered, hands and a car jack were tried to bend the bars, and so on. But my head simply would not fit though the bars, period.

Throughout this process, I kept trying to speak, but was silenced or ignored.

Eventually when there was a pause, everyone being momentarily out of ideas, I spoke up again.

“Why don’t I just get out the way I got in?”

And then I stepped my entire slender body back through the bars, to the same side my head was on. I’d never gotten my head through the bars in the first place…just my body. I wasn’t even stuck…just very obedient.

Ears. The shape of your earlobe makes it easier to go forward. But going backwards your earlobes tend to catch on things and that hurts.