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How to calculate arm span & height

Updated July 20, 2017

A person's weight can be calculated easily by stepping on a scale. However, measuring height from head to toe for some senior citizens and people with spinal problems is difficult to do alone and does not always produce accurate results. Since the arm span of each person is more or less equal to their height, it gives people an alternative method of estimating their height. Calculating arm span and height is easy to do using simple household materials.

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  1. Stand straight against a wall and keep your heels together.

  2. Stretch both the arms away from your body, extending the arms at your shoulders. Your arms and body should make a 90-degree angle.

  3. Measure the arm span using the measuring tape, measuring from the tip of the right hand middle finger to tip of the left hand middle finger. This gives the accurate measurement of your arm span.

  4. Place the edge of the tape measure on the tip of your middle finger. Extend your arm at your shoulder. Your arm and body should make a 90-degree angle.

  5. Keep the measuring tape level. Mark the area from the tip of your middle finger to the middle of your collar bone or sternal notch.

  6. Multiply the half arm span by 2. If your half arm span is 35 inches, your full arm span is 70 inches. Use this procedure if you cannot stretch both the hands due to injury.

  7. Place several pieces of thick cardboard on the ground. Attach the edges of the cardboard with duct tape. The cardboard sheet should be taller than you are and is used to protect your wall from marks.

  8. Place the cardboard sheet vertically against the wall. Tape the top of the cardboard sheet to the wall using masking tape.

  9. Stand straight with your back against the cardboard sheet and keep your heels together.

  10. Place a pencil level with the top of your head. Mark your height on the cardboard sheet using a pencil.

  11. Remove the cardboard sheet from the wall. Draw a horizontal line from the pencil mark using a ruler. Cut along the marked line using scissors.

  12. Lay one end of the cardboard sheet on the ground against the wall. Lie on the cardboard sheet. Your head should be touching the wall. Place the soles of your feet at a 90-degree angle. If soles of your feet are level with the bottom edge of the cardboard sheet, you have taken an accurate height measurement.

  13. Measure the distance from the top edge of the cardboard sheet to the bottom edge of the cardboard sheet using a tape measure. The distance is equal to your height.

  14. Tip

    Wear minimal clothing while measuring the height. Don't wear shoes.


    Some people have longer or shorter arms than their actual height. Arm span measurement is only an estimate of your true height.

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Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Cardboard
  • Duct tape
  • Masking tape
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Scissors

About the Author

David Sanders works for YBM Publishing as a textbook content writer and copy editor. He has worked in the publishing industry since 2006 and also writes home-and-gardening articles for several online publications. Sanders graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a Bachelor of Arts in classics and contemporary studies.

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