How to Measure Your Height

Measuring your own height is a critical, yet difficult task to accomplish. Not only is it hard to see what you are doing, you can easily measure it inaccurately. This often leads to unnecessary disappointments or false reports. How many times have you met people who think they’re THIS tall, even though they are approximately your height? You know they’re wrong because you know exactly how tall you are, and you found THAT out by carefully measuring it.

This article will cover the correct ways to measure human height. Although this method can be done by yourself, an extra helper would probably make this process quicker and more accurate. This often times means your mom or dad, but a cooperative sibling or friend would work just as well… maybe.

1. When to Measure Your Height?

Although there is no standardized time for height measuring, try doing it later during the day or after a full day of normal activities. The reason is that you tend to be an inch or two taller right after you get out of bed. This is due to the collapsible nature of the spine. When laying down, the vertebrates in your spine are spread out horizontally, which causes the spine to lengthen. As you go through the day in an upright position, the vertebrae are stacked and compressed under the influence of gravity. Your height, therefore, shortens and stabilizes as the day goes on.

While it would okay to measure in the morning, I think it would better to record your shortest, baseline height at a later time during the day. This is the height you spend the most time in, and the height that people know you by. Also, I believe it is better to under-report than to over-report. I mean, would you want to “fall short” and feel like a jerk when people ask how tall you are?

2. How Frequently Should You Measure Your Height?

There is no standard frequency for measuring height. For many people, their heights are taken at yearly check-ups with the doctor. In young children, the frequency of measurement is usually higher due to the well-child visit schedule.

If you are actively growing, I’d suggest one session every 3-4 weeks. Measuring too close in time may result in unnecessary stress and frustration because the changes in height are too small to be noticed. Measuring too far in time, you may not be about to keep track of your growth pattern such as acceleration and deceleration.

Whenever you decide to measure your height, you should take measurements for 3 consecutive days, all performed around the same time of the day. Because your height varies slightly with spine compression each day, the average value of these 3 measurements would be a better estimation of your true height.

3. How to Measure Your Height

Equipment You Need: Measuring tape, a small box (or any similar item), a wall, hard floor, a pencil, small ruler (optional)

Method:

  1. Take off shoes and anything on your head that would inflate your height (besides hair).
  2. Stand with your back against the wall with your feet together, preferably near a straight edge or a door hinge (explained in step 6).
  3. The back of your feet, butt, shoulders, and the back of the head should be touching the wall. Look straight ahead with your chin tucked in. This ensures that your body is as straight as possible. Imagine how a soldier stands and salutes to his officer – that is the stance you need to strive for.
  4. If you are by yourself, have the box in one hand and pencil in the other before you start measuring. Once in good position, raise the box to the top of your head, push it against the wall, and push it down to your head. Practice this with a mirror or friend to make sure the box is horizontal to the floor and perpendicular to the wall (that is 90 degrees, for those who are still in geometry) . Keeping the box flat on your height and right-angle to the wall is crucial to an accurate height measurement.  A slight tilt could mean a few inches of difference.
  5. Mark the head level position with the pencil. If you are alone, you will need to pull some ninja moves keep the box in contact with the wall while sliding yourself out of the measuring position to mark your height on the said surface. This can be achieved by pushing the box against the wall while you bend your knees to slide out of the standing position. Alternatively, you can find the lower edge of the box while still in measuring position with one finger, slide out of position without moving your finger, and mark your height. If you are some kind of superhuman, you can skip the whole body sliding thing and just mark your height while you’re still against the wall with a box on top of your head.  Regardless of which way you do it, make sure the box does not slide out of place before you make your mark. Because you could be moving quite a bit with both shoulders raised, it might take some practice before you can take a good measurement. This is the hardest of all steps. If you are with another person, steps 4 and 5 are easily achieved.
  6. Use the measuring tape from the ground up to figure out your height. Make extra effort to make sure the tape is straight. This is where a door hinge or a corner come in handy as they can serve as a straight guide for the tape.
  7. (Optional) You could use the tape measure to accurately mark a few labels near your height. This way, you can quickly figure out new measurements based on the pre-determined positions with a small ruler. This will save you the trouble of aligning the tape over and over again.

Some of the steps would obviously be easier if carried out by a friend of relative. Once your develop a technique that yields accurate and consistent results, stick to that technique for all of the measurements so you can be confident in the numbers obtained.

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