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Recumbent Position

What Is It, Variations, and More

Author:Anna Hernández, MD

Editors:Alyssa Haag,Kelsey LaFayette, DNP, RN, FNP-C,Emily Miao, PharmD

Illustrator:Jessica Reynolds, MS

Copyeditor:Stacy Johnson, LMSW


What is the recumbent position?

The recumbent position describes the body's position when it is lying horizontally, such as when sleeping. 

Variations of the recumbent position include the supine position, where a person lies flat on their back with their face and abdomen facing upwards, and the prone position, where the person lies on their abdomen with their face down. Additionally, there is the right or left recumbent position, where a person lies flat on their right or left side. 

Image of an adult male lying on his left side to show left recumbent position.

Is there a difference between the recumbent position and supine position?

There is a slight difference between the recumbent and supine positions. While the recumbent position refers to any position that involves lying down horizontally, the supine position refers explicitly to lying down with the face and abdomen facing up. 

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Related links

Anatomical terminology

Resources for research and reference

Hansen, J. T., Netter, F. H. (2014). Netter's Clinical Anatomy (3rd edition). Philadelphia, PA: Saunders/Elsevier.

Stanton, C. (2022). Guideline for positioning the patient. AORN Journal, 115(5), 5-7. https://doi.org/10.1002/aorn.13680