Although it might seem strange, people have different arm lengths. Some individuals have ones that are slightly longer than average for their body, while others have somewhat shorter ones.
It’s the same issue with one’s legs. Most people don’t have legs that are exactly the same length. One is typically a little shorter or longer than the other. You can even have different sizes of feet, pelvis, and shoulders.
You can find many urban tales that talk about how personal choices lead to these outcomes, such as drinking coffee while your growth plates are in an activated state. The reality of your body shape and size is that your genetics play the primary role in this process.
If you want to know if you have long or short arms, the measurement you’ll need is your reach.
An average reading is a reach measurement that is equal to one’s height.
How to Know If You Have Long or Short Arms
The easiest way to see if your arms are above or below average in length is to measure your wingspan. Hold your arms straight out from the shoulder, stretching as far as you can through the tip of your middle finger. Have someone measure from tip to tip on the finger and compare that reading with your height.
When you measure your entire wingspan, you’ll get a finger-to-finger measurement that should approximate your height. You can tell if you are above or below average with arm length based on whether this reading is greater or less than how tall you are.
Here are some examples to consider.
- Jerry is 5’10” tall. When his friend measures his wingspan from the tip of each middle finger, he got a measurement of 6’3”. That means Jerry has relatively long arms.
- Karen is 5’8” tall. When her friend made the same measurement, she got a reading of 5’6”. That means Karen has relatively short arms.
- George is 6’5” tall. When his wingspan got measured, it was 6’4.5”. Although the reading is slightly smaller than his height, it’s within a margin of error that makes him fall into the average category.
The actual length of your arms isn’t the dictating factor for determining if they are long or short.
Even though George’s arms are longer than Jerry’s, Jerry has longer arms than his body shape and size. That’s why George is considered average while he is not.
Why Does Arm Length Matter?
Unless you play offensive tackle for the Kansas City Chiefs or earn a living as a professional boxer, it might not seem that arm length matters.
It does. When you know how long your arms are compared to the rest of your body, you can make better decisions in many different aspects of life.
Here are a few examples to review.
■ Knowing Your Arm Length Makes It Easier to Find the Right Clothing.
This issue affects men often when they shop for long-sleeved collared shirts. When you purchase a generic size, you’ll see two measurements published on the shirt. The lower number is for the neck, while the longer one is for the arms.
If you purchased a shirt that was 17.5 + 33.5, that means the neck circumference measurement is 17.5 inches, while the arm length is 33.5 inches.
Shirt manufacturers assume that both arms are of the same length when creating apparel. If you take a complete wingspan measurement, you can split it in half to get the information needed to purchase the correct size.
It is better to purchase the shirt that matches your arm length over the one that fits your neck if you don’t meet the standardized sizing chart.
If you’re unsure where your size would be, you’ll need to take your measurements first. Once you have that information, you can apply it to the following dress shirt sizing chart.
|13 to 13.5 Inches
|32 to 34 Inches
|26 to 28 Inches
|14 to 14.5 Inches
|35 to 37 Inches
|29 to 31 Inches
|15 to 15.5 Inches
|38 to 40 Inches
|32 to 34 Inches
|16 to 16.5 Inches
|41 to 43 Inches
|35 to 37 Inches
|17 to 17.5 Inches
|44 to 46 Inches
|38 to 40 Inches
|18 to 18.5 Inches
|36.5 to 38
|47 to 49 Inches
|41 to 43 Inches
For sizes larger than described above, you’ll need to seek the advice of a big and tall specialist. You also have the option to have your clothing tailored if you have an unusual arm length to manage.
■ Arm Length Knowledge Improves Your Deadlifting.
If your arms are below average in size compared to your height, you could be at a disadvantage when performing deadlifts. This information can help you choose an appropriate strategy for your training that ensures your strength builds without the risk of overextension and injury.
Several potential strategies are available for deadlifting that can help you have a positive experience.
- Use the sumo method for deadlifting. The sumo method keeps your body lower to the ground, making it so that you don’t have to bend over as far to complete the rep. You’ll need to push your knees out, keep your back flat, and take a big breath. When you fill your body with oxygen, you’re giving it resources for this exercise. Then brace your abdominal muscles as if someone is about to punch you to keep your spine neutral. Flex your lats as you lift the bar to keep it close to the body.
- Place your torso more horizontal to the floor. When you struggle to get momentum for completing the deadlift, it can help with shorter arms to have the body become more horizontal, to the point of almost being parallel, to the floor before beginning the routine.
- Work on building strength in your hip extensors. You can make your hips stronger to support your deadlifting efforts with shorter arms. The best options include forward lunges, using a resistance band, or performing donkey kicks. If you have strength there already, you can use advanced leg curls to provide more support.
- Accept that your form might not be 100% perfect. You will typically have a slightly rounded back when deadlifting with shorter arms. Although it might feel like a visual problem, most people won’t care.
Another option to improve your deadlifting experience is to build hip strength using a stability ball.
Best Stability Ball to Use for Adding Hip Strength
Although the half-circle stability platforms are helpful for Pilates and other exercises, they don’t provide the same hip stability and strength as the Bintiva Store Ergonomic Stability Ball. Instead of using a rubber or plasticized surface, you’ll receive a non-slip cover made of canvas that delivers more comfort for repetitive movements.
The stability ball has a rugged aura, allowing you to transition from your stability exercises to working in the office without pausing. It uses a zippered overlay that can get removed and washed to keep it clean, and the outer product incorporates a handle to make transportation a lot easier to manage.
You receive a convenient foot pump to inflate the ball in the box with your purchase.
The cover tends to be a little baggy at first, especially when inflating the ball for the first time. It takes a couple of days for everything to get to where it needs to be, so try to be patient with the process. You’ll get there!
You’ll find the ball to be relatively firm compared to competitive products, which works well when building strength is your priority. You can sit all day, getting the back tightness and pain to lessen while supporting your hips in a natural position.
I highly recommend the Bintiva Store Ergonomic Stability Ball for anyone who wants to build strength in their hips, even if arm length concerns aren’t part of the equation.
Do You Have Short or Long Arms That Impact Your Life?
Everyone is unique. Whether you have short or long arms matters less than knowing how to use them appropriately. After you obtain the appropriate measurements, you can find ways to adapt to your physical makeup so that life can be good for whatever you choose to pursue.
People with long arms must make adaptations to ensure they have their needs met in similar ways to those with shorter arms.
It is also essential for women with shorter arms to have an ongoing conversation with a trusted doctor about their long-term health. In 2008, researchers found a direct link to shorter arms and dementia or Alzheimer’s disease development.
The most important part of this discussion is the need to stay true to yourself. Arm length doesn’t define who you are! When you have the tools and adaptations available to achieve your goals, nothing that can hold you back.