If you have ever been approached by a sleazy guy at a bar (and most have) you will have likely heard some pretty terrible chat up lines. If anyone has ever approached and said “did you know the tongue is the strongest muscle in the human body?” and winked at you, then we just want to apologize on behalf of the entire male sex right now. That is terrible. However, we have some good news. Those sleazy people are wrong!
The myth that the tongue is the strongest muscle in the human body has been around for some time now. It makes sense too. If you think about the tongue it is working all day long and ever seems to get tired. Imagine running a race for as long as you can talk, it would be impossible. So the idea that the tongue is the strongest muscle kind of makes sense, it just doesn’t stand up to reason.
For a start the tongue is not a muscle, it is a collection of 8 muscles. These muscles intertwine to form a muscular hydrostat. This means that the tongue has fantastic redundancies as if one muscle is tired, other muscles can support and take over. It also makes the muscle very agile, another reason that many people associate it with strength.
In reality, though it is not the strongest muscle at all. For a start, we need to define what strength is. If it is about the ability to create force then the tongue is just too small, the quadricep or glute is far stronger. If it is about the leverage it can create then the muscle that moves the jaw is much stronger for such a short size. If it is about endurance then the clear winner is the heart as all it does is pump blood all day every day.
The tongue is therefore not the strongest muscle in the human body based on any test. It is still pretty strange though.