People are quick to tell you what you can and can’t do. The funny thing isn’t how often those people are wrong, but how often we believe them without checking the facts for ourselves. And when it comes to our own bodies, we really have no excuse. After all, it’s all right there. What are you, lazy or something? Not to worry though, we’re here to set the record straight about the limitations of the human body and maybe – just maybe – do it without resorting to fart jokes.
You Can’t Lick Your Elbow…
Go on, try it. We’ll wait.
While it seems like a no-brainer, it’s actually incorrect on two levels. First, we’ll throw the science at you: your elbow isn’t what you think it is. The elbow is a term for the entire joint area between the upper arm (humerous) and forearm (radius and ulna), and therefore consists of numerous parts. The olecranon is the bony tip on the outside which most assume is the actual elbow, but there is also the elbow pit (or cubital fossa) which is the inside and is technically part of the elbow.
Odds are you have no trouble licking that part of your arm. And as if that wasn’t enough, with a little flexibility, you can totally slobber all over your olecranon. Take it away, internet:
You Can’t Tickle Yourself…
Tickling is a weird thing. While we still can’t even be certain what purpose the sensation has (if any), a few theories have popped up in recent years. The most accepted is that the panicked sensation and shuddering is a defense mechanism against spiders and insects on the skin. This would explain why it seems like you can’t tickle yourself: you know it’s coming. Controlling the sensation prevents you from experiencing the panic.
So maybe it’s true that you flip out when someone pokes you under your arm, but not when you do it yourself. That doesn’t mean you’re completely immune to your own charms. In fact there are lots of ways to elicit the response on your own. The easiest way is to use a feather or bristly object to lightly stroke wherever you are normally ticklish. You can also try brushing fingers on your neck or foot. But one of the most sure-fire ways is to rotate your tongue in a large circle on the roof of your mouth for between 15 seconds and a minute. Biology!
You Can’t Fit Your Fist in Your Mouth…
This one appeals to the evolutionist in all of us. Over time, the idiots who could shove their entire hamhock into their gaping maws should have been weeded out of the gene pool.
But the fact is it’s simply not true. While your body type might make it impossible or very difficult, others may find it to be no problem at all:
And with a bit of practise in stretching out your jaw, balling your fist and relaxing your throat, you might be able to do it too. Now go ahead and erase your internet history to remove any evidence of having read that last sentence.
You Can’t Sneeze With Your Eyes Open…
When you come down with a cold, it seems like you’re spending most of your time with your eyes shut. You’re either passed out from doing shots of Nyquil or your face is scrunched up after each sneeze. Closed eyes and sneezing seems to be a fact of life, and it seems unavoidable even if you’re doing something that requires you to be visually alert like operating a vehicle or performing surgery.
Some people even claim serious problems can occur from attempting to prevent your eyes from closing during a sneeze and claim injuries can occur ranging from eyes popping out to pulled muscles to heads exploding.
Naturally, these reports complete bullshit (if common sense isn’t enough for you, the Mythbusters even looked at it). Your eyelids and nose share some nerves, making most people close their eyes for a sneeze, but you can easily hold yours open with no ill effects or (for some people) force them to stay open by squinting. In fact open eyed sneezing isn’t even that uncommon. Youtube has plenty of examples of people willing to jam stuff up their nose and sneeze on camera just to prove it to you.