Formula Medical Group
Apple Valley, CA
760-242-1234


James Krider, MD


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Skinfold technique

 Skinfolds are performed by lifting a fold of skin and subcutaneous fat away from the underlying muscle and bone and then measuring its thickness with a caliper designed for this purpose.

 

  • Take all measurements on the right side of your body
  • Carefully identify and recall your measuring sites
  • Lift the fold by placing the thumb and index finger around 3 inches apart on a line that is perpendicular to the long axis of the skin.
  • Grasp the skinfold firmly between the thumb and index or middle finger of your left hand. The fold is lifted 1 cm above the site to be measured.
  • Place the jaws of the caliper perpendicular to the fold, approximately 1 cm below the thumb and index finger.
  • Take the measurement when skin is dry and lotion-free.
  • Do not measure immediately after exercise because the shift in body fluid to the skin tends to increase the size of the skinfold.

 

Skinfold Pinch for Fat Caliper Measurement

 

Examples of subscapular and triceps skinfold measurements with the Lange skinfold calipers.

 

 

Triceps

Triceps

The subject can be standing or sitting. The skin fold is located midway on the back of the upper arm. The arm hangs freely and the skinfold is lifted parallel to its long axis.

Subscapular

Subscapula

The skinfold is lifted vertically and measured below the tip of the scapula.

Suprailiac

Suprailiac

The skinfold is located immediately above the crest of the ilium. The fold is lifted at a slight angle to the vertical along the normal fold line.

Abdomen

Abdomen

The skinfold is located 2 cm to the right of, adjacent to, and in line with the navel. The fold is lifted parallel to the long axis of the body.

Front Thigh

Front Thigh

The skinfold is located midway on the front of the upper leg over the quadriceps. The foot is placed on a six-inch step with the knee slightly flexed and muscles relaxed. The fold is lifted parallel to the long axis of the leg. Can also have patient place weight on left leg to relax the right leg instead of the step.

Chest (male only)

Chest (male only)

The site is located above and slightly to the right of the right nipple. The skinfold is taken at a 45-degree angle of the horizontal.

Rear Thigh (female only)

Rear thigh (female only)

The skinfold is located midway on the back of the upper leg. The leg is held in the same position as the front thigh measurements. The skinfold is lifted parallel to the axis of the leg.

 

Here are some of the same sites, but showing a little more anatomical detail to help you in locating and marking the site.

Record all skinfold measurements in duplicate, this means that the complete measurement is repeated twice, including picking up the skinfold. This will greatly improve the reproducibility of the results obtained. When measuring skin folds it is important to note that you are not pinching the fat, but that you are gathering a fold of tissue between your fingers to be measured.

When picking up skin folds do not pick up the skin fold horizontally, using your middle finger and thumb sweep up the fold of tissue.

  • Use the right arm to record all triceps skinfold measurements.
  • The subject may either stand or sit down for this procedure.
  • Stand behind the subject, slightly to their left. Place your right arm directly behind the subject's right arm.
  • Instruct the subject to relax their right arm by the side of their body; it should be positioned so the palm is facing forward.
  • Measure the distance between the postero-lateral (outer part of the back) bony point of the acromion (bony part of the shoulder tip) on the subject's shoulder to the olecranon (elbow tip). The tape measure must not hang vertically, but must join the two bony landmarks, with the right hand edge of the tape on the center of the upper border of the olecranon. Mark the halfway point, on the right hand side of the tape, with the marker point. The Tape is 1cm in diameter, allow for this by measuring 0.5cm inwards after the initial mark. Use the second mark as the midway marker position.
  • With your left hand, sweep up a vertical skinfold of about ½" from just above the marked point. Ensure the skinfold is free.
  • With your right hand, hold the calipers horizontally behind the subject's arm. Apply the jaws of the calipers so they sit either side of the exact marked point. Slowly and gently release the caliper handle and remove your left arm off the subject's arm. The arm should remain relaxed and poised by the subject's side.
  • The caliper needle should initially fall quickly and then gradually come to rest. Take the reading as soon as the needle has stabilized and stopped moving.
  • Record the measurement in millimeters to the nearest 0.2 division.
  • After the reading has been recorded, release the calipers.

TRICEPS

  • Still with the right arm, find the head of the humerus at the subject's shoulder. Place the tape at this point and run it down by the anterior (front) aspect of the arm to the midpoint between the two epicondyles of the humerus in the cubital fossa. Locate the tendon and place the right hand side of the tape against the tendon.
  • Mark the halfway point, on the right hand side of the tape, with the marker point. The Tape is 1cm in diameter, allow for this by measuring 0.5cm inwards after the initial mark.
  • Sweep up a ½" skinfold above the marked point. Ensure the skinfold is free.
  • With your right hand, hold the calipers horizontally and apply the jaws of the calipers so they sit either side of the exact marked point. Slowly and gently release the caliper handle and remove your left arm off the subject's arm.
  • As before, record the measurement in millimeters to the nearest 0.2 division.
  • After the reading has been recorded, release the calipers.

BICEPS

  • Instruct the subject to remove any upper body clothes (ladies can keep their bras on for this procedure). The subscapular lies below the lowest point of the scapula.
  • Stand behind the subject and locate the right scapula of your subject.
  • The scapula border nearest the spine runs downward and outward and then forms an angle of about 45°. Mark immediately below this point with a marker pen. You may find it easier to mark the 45° angle as an addition marker to aid in marking the correct position for the measurement.
  • The subscapular measurement should be taken immediately below the 45° angle with the marked point in the center of the skinfold.
  • The skinfold should be picked up in the sloping line. A skinfold of approximately ½" should be measured.
  • Use your right hand to hold the calipers horizontally and apply the jaws of the calipers so they sit either side of the exact marked point. Slowly and gently release the caliper handle and remove your left arm off the subject's arm.
  • As before, record the measurement in millimeters to the nearest 0.2 division.
  • After the reading has been recorded, release the calipers.

SUBSCAPULAR

  • Instruct the subject to unclothe their waist and hips. They do not necessarily need to undress, but can for example undo trousers and drop them to the top of thighs or hoist skirts up.
  • Locate the subject's hip-bone, this lies directly in line with their armpit.
  • The suprailiac position mark should be made just above the hip-bone and in line with the armpit.
  • UNLIKE the other skinfolds, the ½ " suprailiac skinfold should be picked up VERTICALLY and NOT HORIZONTALLY. It should still be lifted with a sweeping motion.
  • Position the middle finger and thumb in a horizontal line, either side of the mark, sweep the skin together and pick it up vertically.
  • As before, record the measurement in millimeters to the nearest 0.2 division.
  • After the reading has been recorded, release the calipers.

SUPRAILIAC

 

This article was last reviewed February 3, 2006 by Dr. James Krider.

BIA
BIA test preparation
BIA home scales
BMI
Body circumference
Body circ technique
Body compartments
Body comp methods
Body measurements
Skinfolds
Skinfold technique
Skinfold calipers

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