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somatotype

Somatotyping is a method for describing the human physique in terms of a number of traits that relate to body shape and composition


Somatotype





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History

Originally proposed as a genotypic morphology rating on a 7 point scale by Sheldon (1940), drawing from earlier work of Kretschmer (1921) who classified three ‘poles’ to represent extreme physique variation, and Viola (1933) which related dimensions of the thorax, trunk and limbs to a ‘normotype’

Partly influenced by an alternative methodology from Parnell (1954), Heath and Carter (1967) introduced a three numeral rating somatotype which has become the most universally applied, which involved a photoscopic and anthropometric method, later to be revised in 1990

William Sheldon 1898-1977

Was an American psychologist who devoted his professional life to bserving the range of human body types and he associated these to human ersonality traits or temperament types

In the 1940s, Dr. William Sheldon (۱۸۹۸-۱۹۷۷) proposed a theory about how certain body types (“somatotypes”) are associated with certain personality characteristics

Somatotype challenge

He claimed that there are three such somatotypes:

mesomorphy   ectomorphy   endomorphy



somatotypes, named after the three germ layers of embryonic evelopment: the endoderm, (develops into the digestive tract), the mesoderm, (becomes muscle, heart and blood vessels), and the ectoderm (forms the skin and nervous system)

William Sheldon’s Somatotypes


Endomorphic Body Type

Associated personality traits:

Relaxed
Sociable
Tolerant
Comfort-loving
Peaceful
Affection seeking
Least likely to engage in criminal behavior

Mesomorphic Body Type

Associated personality traits:

Active
Assertive
Vigorous
Combative
Enjoy risk-taking
Desire power
Competitive
Most likely to commit criminal acts

Ectomorphic Body Type

Associated personality traits:

Quiet
Fragile
Restrained
Non-assertive
Sensitive
Anxious
Intense
More likely to be drug users

What were your three scores?

Ecto:______    Meso:_______  Endo:_______

Which somatotype?

All performers are made up of elements of these three extreme somatotypes.

Most people have a mixture of mesomorphic, endomorphic and ectomorphic characteristics.

A person’s somatotype can be graded using a scoring system. They are given 3 scores between 1 and 7, according to how well they conform to each of the extreme somatotypes. 1 is a low score, 7 is a high score. For example:



Somatotypes in sport

Certain somatotypes tend to be found in certain sports. The ideal somatotype for a performer will depend on their sport or event. In some cases, the position that they play in a particular sport might  also be important.

Consider, for example, thevarious body sizes and shapes in a rugby team

Mesomorph

The mesomorphic shape  is the most common body shape among elite performers.

Most sports favor the strong, muscular limbs and low body fat of the mesomorph shape.

Michael Phelps is 3½,۷,۳½  He has enough endomorphy for energy and lift.  He is ectomorphic enough to have a long stroke.  And he has a powerful mesomorphic engine to drive him.  It’s no wonder he’s an Olympic Swimming Champion

ECTOMORPH

Owing to their slight build they are not suited to power events but can succeed at endurance events and gymnastics where their slight frame is an advantage.

Mesomorph

An extreme mesomorph can excel in speed, agility and strength sports as well as being suited to swimming.

Their body type makes them suitable for most sports at a high level.

Endomorph

Endomorphs will have difficulty in weight bearing aerobic exercises such as distance running but in sports such as rugby, their bulk will have an advantage in certain playing positions such as pack members in the rugby

Somatotypes of 106 male athletes

The Heath-Carter somatotype

The Heath-Carter somatotype method is the most universally applied, and will be used in this laboratory manual. It consists of a three-numeral rating

mesomorphy   ectomorphy   endomorphy

Endomorphy

The first component, called endomorphy,describes the relative degree of adiposity of the body, regardless of where or how it is distributed

Mesomorphy

The second component, called mesomorphy,describes the relative musculo-skeletal development of the body

Ectomorphy

The third component, called ectomorphy, describes the relative slenderness of the body.

Somatotype Assessment

Equipment required

Stadiometer

Weighing scale

Bone caliper

Skin caliper

Anthropometric tape

Methods

Photoscopic

Anthropometric

۱- somatotype rating form

۲- computer calculated

Combined

۱– the criterion measure

Anthropometric somatotype

The anthropometric somatotype can be calculated from a set of 10 measurements: height, weight, four skinfolds (triceps, subscapular, supraspinale and medial calf), two biepicondylar breadths (humerus and femur) two girths (upper arm fl exed and tensed and calf)

Measurements Required

Humerus breadth – cm
Humerus breadth – cm
Triceps skinfold – mm
Supraspinale skinfold -mm
Medial calf skinfold – mm

Total mass – kg
Stature – cm
Upper arm circumference – cm
Max. Calf circumference – cm
Femur breadth – cm

Measurement techniques

Where the choice is possible, measures should be taken both on left and right sides and the largest measure should be reported. In largescale surveys, measuring on the right side is preferable

A) Weight

The subject, in minimal clothing, stands in the center of the scale platform. Body mass should be recorded to the nearest tenth of a kilogram, if possible.. Avoid measuring body mass shortly after a meal

B) Height

The subject is standing straight, against an upright wall with a stadiometer or against an anthropometer, touching the wall or the anthropometer with back, buttocks and both heels. The subject is instructed to stretch upward and take and hold a full breath

C) Skinfolds

Raise a fold of skin and subcutaneous tissue at the marked site firmly between thumb and forefinger of the left hand, and pull the fold gently away from the underlying muscle. Hold the caliper in the right hand and apply the edge of the plates on the caliper branches 1 cm below the fingers, and allow them to exert their full pressure before reading the thickness of the fold after about two seconds.

۱- Triceps skin-fold: The subject stands relaxed, with the arm hanging loosely. Raise the triceps skin-fold at the mid-line on the back of the arm at a level halfway between the acromion and the olecranon processes

۲- Supraspinaleskinfold: The subject stands relaxed. Raise the fold 5–۷ cm above the anterior superior iliac spine on a line to the anterior axillary border and in a direction downwards and inwards at 45 degrees. (This skinfold was called suprailiac in some former  text)

۳- Subscapular skinfold: The subject stands relaxed. Raise the subscapular skinfold adjacent to the inferior angle of the scapula in a direction which is obliquely downwards and outwards at 45 degrees

۴- Medial calf skinfold: The subject is seated, with the legs slightly spread. The leg that is not being measured can be bent backwards to facilitate the measurement. Alternatively, the foot may be placed on a box with the knee fl exed. Raise a vertical skinfold on the medial side (aspect) of the leg  at the level of the maximum girth of the calf.

D) Breadths

۱- Biepicondylarhumerusbreadth: The subject holds the shoulder and elbow flexed to 90 degrees. Measure the width between the medial and lateral epicondyles of the humerus. In this position, the medial epicondyle is always somewhat lower than the lateral. Apply the calliper at an angle approximately bisecting the angle of the elbow. Place firm pressure on the crossbranches of the calliper in order to compress the subcutaneous tissue.

۲- Biepicondylar femur breadth: The subject is seated, or standing upright with one foot on a pedestal, with knee bent at a right angle. Measure the greatest distance between the lateral and medial epicondyles of the femur. Place firm pressure on the cross-branches in order to compress the subcutaneous tissue.

D) Girths

۱- Upper arm girth, flexed and tensed : The subject holds the upper arm horizontally and fl exes the elbow 45 degrees, clenches the hand and maximally contracts the elbow flexors and extensors. Take the measurement at the greatest girth of the arm. The tape should not be too loose, but should not indent the soft tissue either.

۲- Standing calf girth: The subject stands with feet slightly apart.Place the tape horizontally around the calf and measure the maximum circumference. The tape should not be too loose, but should
not indent the soft tissue either.

How to Calculate the Somatotype using the Heath-Carter Chart

Somatotype Rating Form

The somatotype is always quoted in the order endomorphy, mesomorphy, ectomorphy, as a 3 digit number. For example if: endomorphy = 5   mesomorphy = 4.5    ectomorphy = 2.5

Any half components (e.g. 4.5) should be rounded up. The somatotype would be 553. This is then plotted on a somatochart.

What were your three scores?

Endo:______    Meso:_______  Ecto:_______

Plot your scores on the somatochart

X coordinate = ecto – endo score

Y coordinate = 2 ´ meso score – (endo + ecto scores)