Girths are circumference measures at standard anatomical sites around the body.
- aim: To measure the circumference of the calf, as a measure of the underlying musculature and adipose tissue. Girth measurements combined with skinfold measurements can give a clearer picture of changes in tissue composition and distribution of muscle and fat.
- equipment required: flexible metal tape measure and pen suitable for marking the skin. If a plastic or cloth tape is used, it should be checked regularly against a metal tape as they may stretch over time.
- procedure: This girth measurement is usually taken on the right side of the body. The subject stands erect with their weight evenly distributed on both feet and legs slightly apart. The measurement is taken at the level of the largest circumference of the calf. The maximal girth is not always obvious, and the tape may need to be moved up and down to find the point of maximum circumference. When recording, you need to make sure the tape is not too tight or too loose, is lying flat on the skin, and is horizontal. It may help to have the subject stand on a box to make the measurement easier.
- reliability: Factors that may affect reliability include changes to the testing personnel, constant and even tension on the tape, and correct landmarking (finding the correct anatomical site for measurement).
- advantages: low costs involved in the testing procedure, and ease of self testing
- comments: Clothing over the site should be removed if possible to make sure measuring tape is positioned correctly and that the correct circumference is determined.