Lying (position)

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A lying woman
A human lying in the recovery position

Lying (also recumbency or prostration) is a type of human position in which the body is more or less horizontal and supported along its length by the surface underneath.

When in a lying position, the body may assume a great variety of shapes and positions. The following are the basic recognized positions.

  • Supine: lying on the back with the face up.
  • Prone: lying on the chest with the face down ("lying down" or "going prone"). See also "Prostration".
  • Lying on either side, with the body straight or bent/curled forward or backward.
    • The fetal position is lying or sitting curled, with limbs close to the torso and the head close to the knees.
    • The recovery position (coma position), one of a series of variations on a lateral recumbent or three-quarters prone position of the body, into which an unconscious but breathing casualty can be placed as part of first aid treatment

Lying is the most common position while being immobilized, e.g. in bedrest while sleeping or being struck by injury or disease.

As a treatment[edit]

Main article: Bedrest

Bedrest as a medical treatment refers to staying in bed day and night as a treatment for an illness or medical condition, especially when prescribed or chosen rather than resulting from severe prostration or imminent death. Even though most patients in hospitals spend most of their time in the hospital beds, bedrest more often refers to an extended period of recumbence at home.

Long-term risks[edit]

Prolonged bedrest carries some medical risks such as demineralization of the bones and atrophy of the muscles, as well as economic and social costs, and is much less commonly prescribed today. Preterm labor with threatened miscarriage remains one of the few conditions for which bedrest remains a standard treatment.

It is also a major cause of thrombosis. [1]


  1. ^ Chapter 4 in: Mitchell, Richard Sheppard; Kumar, Vinay; Abbas, Abul K.; Fausto, Nelson. Robbins Basic Pathology: With STUDENT CONSULT Online Access. Philadelphia: Saunders. ISBN 1-4160-2973-7.  8th edition.