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The Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci - one of the first and most famous anthropometric drawings

Anthropometry (from the Greek ἄνθρωπος anthropos , German 'human' , and μέτρον metron , German 'measure' ) is the teaching of determining and applying the dimensions of the human body . Anthropometry is mainly used in ergonomics to design workplaces, vehicles, tools and furniture, as well as in occupational safety to determine safety measures (e.g. dimensioning of protective covers) or distances to dangerous parts. It also serves as a starting point for the creation of standards for calculating clothing sizes in the clothing industry . Economic historians use the height information as a hypothetical indicator for the standard of living. In earlier times, anthropometry tried to prove alleged connections between body and character traits .


Example of an anthropometric view

The problem with norms is that people differ considerably in their body measurements. Therefore, norms usually only consider a limited area of ​​the population. The results of anthropometry are usually not used directly, but are stored in data tables or standards . B. to serve the classification of movements. The data collected with anthropometry are available there for implementation by other departments. In the tables, not only the average values , but above all the fifth and ninety-fifth percentiles are given as statistical extreme values ​​for the technical design.

For body size, the notes mean:

  • 5th percentile: only 5% are smaller
  • 50th percentile: 50% are smaller or larger ( median value )
  • 95th percentile: only 5% are larger

The example shown comes from the NASA standard 3000T, but is also used in a similar form in other standards. In Germany these are the following standards:

When applying these standards, it should be noted that the respective values ​​are only of limited validity for practical application. On the one hand, each person (s) will show differences in their age composition, ethnic origin and the respective living conditions compared to the test group of the norm measurement. These aspects as well as the acceleration of body dimensions always cause deviations from the standardized dimensions and require new statistical data surveys on the body dimensions of a population from time to time.

Body types

Performing artists such as Leonardo da Vinci , Albrecht Dürer and Le Corbusier have also dealt with anthropometry throughout the entire human culture . One of the research goals of these artists was the determination of a natural or divine law in the proportions of the human body. Only in the past few decades did anthropological research, especially by Holle Greil , confirm that many of the human body dimensions do not have a fixed ratio to one another, but that different body types exist. In particular, body height, the proportions between the upper body and leg length, body circumference and head size are not clearly related. Everyday experiences that both small and large people can be either slim or corpulent illustrate this. People of any height can lie in their respective proportions between the expression of a seated giant, i.e. with a longer upper body and shorter legs, and that of a seated dwarf, with a shorter upper body and longer legs. This pronounced range of variations in the human body structure in several dimensions is very little taken into account in the clothing industry , for example .

Body movement

Coming from applied anthropometry, there are a few ways to classify and categorize movements. Some examples of body movements in the field of motor skills :

Body axes

Body movements or incorrect posture take place or are fixed around body axes, which can also result in mixed axes:

  • Longitudinal axis (longitudinal axis of the body or an extremity) - also named based on the general technical nomenclature "y-axis"
  • Transverse axis (transverse axis of the body or an extremity) - "x-axis"
  • Sagittal axis (frontal or "arrow" axis of the body or an extremity) - "z-axis"


Often used models:

  • IDO: Ergonomics - "Interactive Ergonomic simulation system"
  • JACK - from Tecnomatix Human Performance
  • Manikin
  • RAMSIS and

Application of anthropometry in sport

After the Second World War, anthropometric models were initially used to select talent in the GDR , which deliberately broke away from the model of the USSR , where initially a model was practiced that socialist people did not depend on their biological capabilities. This was not only a question of fitness by height for high jump, rowing or shot put, the size of hands and feet for swimming, long arms for discus and hammer throwing and short arms for weightlifting, but also the genetic inheritance of aerobic or anaerobic ability. In a further search for anthropometric talent criteria, the importance of the ring finger (which should be longer than the index finger in men ) and the symmetry of the legs as suitability for sprinting were finally determined.

See also


  • Bernd wing, Holle Greil, Karl summer: anthropological atlas. Basics and data. Age and gender variability in humans . Wötzel, Frankfurt am Main 1986, ISBN 3-925831-00-2 .
  • Alvin R. Tilley: The Measure of Man and Woman. Human factors in design . Revised ed. Wiley, New York (NY) 2002, ISBN 0-471-09955-4 (English).


  1. Helmut Wurm: The decrease in the mean body height and the rounding of the head in Central Europe from the late Middle Ages to modern times. In: Würzburg medical history reports. Volume 14, 1996, pp. 325-358.
  2. ^ Edmund Churchill, John T. McConville: Sampling and Data Gathering Strategies for Future USAF Anthropometry . Ed .: Webb Associates, Inc., A / F Aerospace Medical Research Center. Yellow Springs (Ohio) February 1976 (English, [PDF; accessed February 5, 2017] AMRL-TR-74-102).
  3. NASA Man-Systems Integration Standards: Anthropometry and Biomechanics
  4. The human simulation for ergonomic design , read on April 30, 2010.
  5. ANTHROPOS ErgoMAX , read on April 30, 2010.
  6. ICIDO: Ergonomics ( Memento of the original from July 24, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , read on April 30, 2010.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  7. Human Modeling Technology ( Memento of August 17, 2012 in the Internet Archive ), read on April 30, 2010.
  8. Arnd Krüger , Paul Kunath: The Development of Sports Science in the Soviet Zone and the GDR . In: W. Buss, C. Becker u. a. (Ed.): Sport in the Soviet Zone and the early GDR. Genesis - structures - conditions . Hofmann, Schorndorf 2001, p. 351-366 .
  9. Arnd Krüger: Talent selection . In: competitive sport . tape 43 , no. 5 , 2013, p. 41-42 .
  10. ^ Liam P. Kilduff, Christian J. Cook, John T. Manning: Digit ratio (2D: 4D) and performance in male surfers . In: Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research . tape 25 , no. November 11 , 2011, ISSN  1064-8011 , p. 3175–3180 , doi : 10.1519 / JSC.0b013e318212de8e (English).
  11. Arnd Krüger: Symmetry as a talent criterion? In: competitive sport . tape 45 , no. 1 , 2015, p. 29 .
  12. ^ Robert Trivers, Brian G. Palestis, John T. Manning: The symmetry of children's knees is linked to their adult sprinting speed and their willingness to sprint in a long-term Jamaican study . In: PLoS ONE . tape 8 , no. 8 , August 19, 2013, doi : 10.1371 / journal.pone.0072244 (English, e72244).

Web links

Commons : Anthropometry  - collection of images, videos and audio files