Medically the evaluation by Alana Biggers, M.D., MPH — created by Kathryn Watson — to update on October 26, 2018

Biacromial breadth

The width in between your shoulders deserve to vary according to genetics, weight, body type, and other factors. The researchers who study person measurement, called anthropometry, have developed metrics and also methods because that measuring the width of your shoulders. The main term provided to define this measure is “biacromial breadth” or “biacromial diameter.”

Keep analysis to discover out what shoulder width averages have looked choose over time and how to measure up your very own shoulder width.

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If “biacromial diameter” sounds choose an outdated term to you, that’s because it is. It more than likely isn’t offered as lot as it offered to be. That might be in component because the United states hasn’t released an main shoulder width typical in end 30 years.

This gift some difficulties in figuring the end the typical shoulder broad for U.S. Men and also women today. Many of the data us have around current typical shoulder broad is anecdotal.

In contrast, the Centers for an illness Prevention and also Control (CDC) continue to publish in-depth breakdowns of typical height, weight, BMI, and other human body measurements damaged down by ethnicity, age, and also height.

Anecdotal observations tell united state that shoulder width averages deserve to vary follow to ethnicity, diet, exercise, and also family history. Statistics tell us that men and also women are gaining taller and more comprehensive worldwide. Here’s what us know:


Survey data taken in the early on 1960s calculated the 3,581 American women over the period of 17 had actually an mean shoulder width of 13.9 customs (35.3 cm). Men had actually an typical shoulder broad of 15.6 inches (39.6 cm), based upon 3,091 inspection participants. Yet things have adjusted since then.


CDC inspection data native 1988 come 1994 summarizes biacromial measurements taken the 8,411 women aged two decades and older. Based upon their measurements, the typical shoulder broad for American females was 14.4 inch (36.7 cm). Based upon the shoulder measurements of 7,476 guys aged two decades and enlarge taken throughout the very same time period, the average shoulder broad of males in the United claims was 16.1 customs (41.1 cm).


A bit various than strict biacromial width, some measurements span from arm-to-arm. A 1988 survey of unified States army personnel tallied the mean forearm-to-forearm breadth (tricep-to-tricep) for males as 21.5 customs (54.6 cm).

This inspection measured the shoulder breadth the 1,774 males over the age of 19, and also all participants were armed forces personnel. The same survey calculation 2,208 woman participants to have actually an median forearm-to-forearm breadth that 18.4 inches (46.8 cm).

The forearm-to-forearm breadth measurement has tendency to be wider than the standard measurement the shoulder-blade-to-shoulder blade (biacromial breadth).


A 2009 survey performed in Sweden verified the mean shoulder broad calculated because that 105 men over 18 to be 15.5 inches. The end of 262 females measured, the average shoulder breadth was 14 inches. This survey concluded the average human being dimensions had actually increased because that the Swedish population over the previous 40 years.


If you interested in just how you measure up to historical averages, take a friend and also a tape measure for the easiest way to understand your shoulder width.

The official way to measure your shoulder width is to measure joint-to-joint indigenous shoulder reminder to shoulder tip. This can be done through your back facing your friend that holds up a measure up tape.


Measuring your shoulders with help

Instruct her friend to location the finish of the measure up tape in ~ the place where her shoulder meets the optimal of her arm, or, the boniest part of her shoulder. Native there, stop the tape taut, they should stretch the ice straight across to the reminder of your other shoulder blade. The measure up is her shoulder width.

Measuring your shoulders by yourself

If you’re by yourself and want come measure her shoulders, stand versus a wall surface with your head organized high. Using a pencil, reach throughout your left shoulder with your appropriate hand and also mark the place right above your shoulder joint. Repeat the process on the contrary side v your opposite hand. Then use a measuring ice cream to measure the distance in between the two markings.


This is a much less complicated measurement to acquire if you have someone with you!

To measure her shoulders from arm-to-arm, one anthropometrist would use huge calipers to measure the breadth of her shoulders including your arms. Come replicate this, stand encountering a partner and also use a measuring tape to obtain this measurement.

Let your arms hang relaxed, under at her sides. Shot to save your posture as upright as possible but also still relaxed. Have actually the other human being measure throughout you native the top of your upper arms. Depending on the border of your body, this measurement might be less complicated to take it or more accurate if measured across your back rather than your front.


Shoulder breadth on its own may not to speak as much as as soon as it’s an unified with various other body measurements. Researcher take these dimensions for all sorts that reason. They take body measurements to understand growth patterns and also health that a populace and to use measurements come the style of the spaces we usage — native cars come chairs to assistive devices. It’s even how the broad of her shirt gets sized and how a keep going makes apparel fit better.


Average shoulder width has adjusted slightly over the years and without more recent dimensions of a large sample of different populations it’s tough to understand what the current average shoulder width is.

Still, based upon biacromial dimensions taken in years passed and trends it was observed by researchers, it’s probably safe come say that in the unified States mean shoulder broad is at the very least 16 inch (41 cm) because that men and also 14 inch (36 cm) for women.

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Depending top top what the measurement is being used for, how shoulder width is measured may vary.


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Medically reviewed by Alana Biggers, M.D., MPH — created by Kathryn Watson — updated on October 26, 2018