Tarzan is the loin-cloth wearing, ab owning, vine swinging ape-human of my dreams. He’s an impressive specimen, physically and physiologically. The dude can do some pretty insane stuff with his body.
Surfing along tree trunks, swing between trees on jungle vines and defeating a leopard in a one-on-one fight is not normal human behaviour.
There’s a meme floating around that suggest Tarzan is even stronger than we all realise. I present you with Tarzan’s butt clenching ability:
When I first saw the meme this way me:
But now I mostly have a bunch of questions like, is that even possible? How did Tarzan figure out he could do that? And holy hell, how do you treat butt crack rope burn?
I’ve done some research- which just means I did a bunch of Googling- to try and figure out if it is physically possible for a human to develop enough butt strength to clench their way from vine to vine like Tarzan.
The result? Inconclusive.
But, if Tarzan could could really grip with his butt, he probably suffered from severe lower back and hip pain as well as restricted movement in his pelvis.
When your gluteus maximus, the main muscle in your bum, overworks your other muscles stop working properly and, therefore, weaken. This includes your core. But there’s now way Tarzan has a weak core- just look at the man:
Now that we got that sorted it’s probably time for me to point out Tarzan isn’t actually gripping the vine with his butt-he’s using his feet. Look closely.
He’s also shown earlier in the movie swinging by his feet so that theory makes a bit more sense.
So if he can’t swing by his butt, does it at least make sense he could swing by his feet?
I vote no. Holding yourself upright from your feet is impossible because of one main thing- gravity. The weight of your body combined with gravity would pull you forward, even if you had abs of steel like Tarzan.
Let’s give Tarzan the benefit of the doubt here- he’s got momentum to help him stay upright. Basically, his swinging between vines generates enough force to help him stay upright.
But his toes…are a human’s toes really strong enough to grip and hold like hands? (Yes, i Googled ‘foot grip strength’ to find the answer).
In theory I say yes. Our hands and feet both have five appendages- if our hands can be trained to hold onto stuff then so can our feet.
The research suggests the same. Toe grip is a complex motion that works similar to hand grip. It requires the use of several muscles, which function differently from person to person depending on their body weight, arch of their foot and flexibility. Toe grip strength can be increased by training, so Tarzan using his feet to swing between vines is very possible.
After all, he was raised by apes which means he was probably using his feet as second hands his whole life.
I wouldn’t suggest you go and do monkey bars using your feet, but props to Tarzan. Jane did good.