Why to humans tend to scrunch up their face when moving a heavy weight?

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During my gym session this morning, I was thinking about why I feel a natural impulse to screw up my facial features during particularly heavy lifts.

If I consciously decided not to let my features distort I can more or less left heavy with relatively calm features but why is the natural inclination to ball up our face like a baby with wind? Does it actually provide any kind of benefit?

In: 97

The more tension you get in your body. The more your muscles respond.

This includes your face, your abdomen and your lungs

To lift heavy weights it’s helpful to use the Valsalva Maneuver; which involves breathing in and holding your breath to create internal pressure. This helps to create rigidity in your torso which protects your spine somewhat, and helps with the efficient transmission of force to the bar.

It’s normal to distort your face a bit when you’re holding your breath.

Same reason we scream when we r startled or smile when happy or make any kind of expressions with our face …to communicate to our tribe

In this case it’s to communicate that we r struggling with something heavy or physically taxing and are in need of help

Screaming serves as an alarm system for the tribe…back when humans were just a less hairy version of monkeys being startled almost definitely meant being attacked by an animal and u scream to sound the alarm 😱😱 hoping the rest of ur tribe runs to safety

Smiling is communicating that u appreciate what they did …let’s say they just gave u a back rub and got rid of all the ticks and parasites that u yourself r unable to reach …u thank them with a smile 😊😊

All your muscles are linked and we flex them for more power and to stabilize our bodies to prevent injury.

For more power, like in sports, analysts will talk about the kinetic chain. Run faster pumping your arms, throw faster by stepping into it, swing harder by twisting your hips.

Stabilizing your body. Tensing up will help prevent injuries like pulling or tearing a muscle. So you flex muscles you don’t think are directly linked to the work but they are. Like aww I kinked my neck pushing a stalled car for an old lady. Your shoulders flexed and pulled on your relaxed neck and now you have a strain.

But why my face? Humans are fine motor control fiends. We have devoted much of our neurons to our appendages. So we are really good at wiggling toes, picking things up delicately, using tools, typing but not so much with our faces. Hence we have fewer neurons controlling more muscles in our face compared to other parts.

During heavy exertion your body is providing the most protection with the least mental effort by flexing the muscles in your face.

Your body is unable to manipulate specific muscles individually one by one. And ‘groups’ tend to take over…say for example clench only your thigh muscle…then your opposite bicep, then your crotch…eventually everything just clenches up simultaneously. And you really want this to happen this way. As bones hold us up structurally it’s the muscles that keep it all together. The more ridged the entire body the more overall strength it’ll have. You can train yourself not to do this…such as folks can train themselves to wiggle their ears and other muscular displays.