Supine Position and Your Health: Exercise, Sleep, Pregnancy & more
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When researching different exercise routines or sleeping positions, you could come across the word “supine position,” which describes a body position in which the person is lying on their back. Supine is a position that simply means “laying on the back or with the face upward,” such as when you sleep on your back in bed and stare up at the ceiling. Supine may sound like a sophisticated term, but it’s actually rather simple.
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Supine position in exercise habits
When engaging in activities such as yoga and Pilates, as well as a variety of breathing and relaxation exercises, it is usual practice to assume the supine posture.
According to Dr. Monisha Bhanote, MD, FASCP, FCAP, a triple board-certified physician and instructor of Yoga Medicine, there are a number of yoga positions that may incorporate the supine position. Some examples of these poses include, but are not limited to the following:
The Bridge Position (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
Twist Reclined Position (Supta Matsyendrasana)
“Fish Pose” pose
Reclined in a Butterfly Position (Supta Baddha Konasana)
Pigeon with its Tail Up
Mountain Pose in Supine Extended Form (Supta Utthita Tadasana)
When you practice these postures, you always have the option to modify them by adding comforting props like blocks, bolsters, or blankets.
In addition, the majority of Pilates classes utilize the supine position for a number of exercises. Finding a neutral spine position is the starting pose for many of the floor exercises in the Pilates method. When your body is in this position, you need to have a strong core and stable hips so that you can perform the exercise correctly.
Finding neutral spine
Begin by assuming the supine position, resting on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Keep your feet planted firmly on the ground while bending at the knees.
Inhale deeply and either let your body relax or press your body firmly into the ground.
Make use of your abdominal muscles to press your lower spine into the floor as you exhale.
Inhale to let the tension go. You should be able to feel a gap or a natural bend in your lower back as you raise your back off the floor. This posture of the spine is considered to be neutral.
The supine position and the act of sleeping
How you sleep can make your existing health problems worse, as well as increase the amount of pain you feel in your neck and back. If you do not have any particular health concerns that are associated with sleep, then sleeping in the supine position should not be a problem for you. On the other hand, there are certain health and medical conditions that, if you sleep on your back, can get even more severe.
The following is a list of some of the more prevalent problems that might arise from sleeping in a supine position.
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Obstructive sleep apnea
According to the findings of a study that was conducted in 2014, more than half of all patients who have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are categorized as having OSA which is associated with lying in the supine position. This is due to the fact that persons who have OSA may have a reduced capacity to raise their lung volume and extend their chest while they are in the supine position, which may cause breathing issues that are related to their sleep.
When a person moves from a standing position to a supine position, the diaphragm and the abdominal organs may compress the lung that is close to them. This brings about an overall decline in quality as a result of the difficulty in sleeping,” explains Bhanote.
According to Bhanote, after approximately 24 weeks of pregnancy, sleeping in the supine position may induce some dizziness in addition to trouble breathing. If you lie down on your left side or sit in an upright position, you should be able to get some relief from this.
The condition is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
It is estimated that up to twenty percent of the population in the United States has GERD. As a result of this condition, stomach acid travels back up into the esophagus.
People who suffer from reflux should avoid sleeping in the supine position since it encourages more acid to move up into the esophagus and keeps it there for a longer period of time. As a result, the supine posture is not recommended. While attempting to sleep, this causes symptoms such as heartburn and sometimes even coughing or choking.
Long-term gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can ultimately result in more serious disorders, such as bleeding ulcers and Barrett’s esophagus. It’s possible that elevating the head of your bed will help reduce some of the discomforts you’re feeling.
The dangers of lying in a supine position
There are a number of conditions that share a significant number of the dangers that are connected to being in the supine posture.
During the time of pregnancy
There is a possibility that the uterus will compress the inferior vena cava if you are pregnant and spend a lot of time lying on your back. The inferior vena cava is a large vein that transports deoxygenated blood from the lower body to the heart. If you are pregnant and spend a lot of time lying on your back, you run this risk. If something like this were to take place while a woman was pregnant, it may lead to low blood pressure for the pregnant woman and a reduction in the amount of blood that reached the fetus.
Another potential risk factor during pregnancy is remaining in the supine position while engaging in physical activity. You should try to minimize the amount of time that you spend lying on your back, as recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. If you want to spend less time on your back when performing Pilates or yoga routines, alter the poses such that you spend less time there.
With a disease affecting the heart
Additionally, according to Dr. Jessalynn Adam, MD, a board-certified physician specializing in primary care sports medicine with Orthopedics and Joint Replacement at Mercy, people who have congestive heart failure may have trouble breathing when lying in the supine position and, as a result, should not lie down flat. Dr. Adam works in the department of Orthopedics and Joint Replacement at Mercy.
In cases of GERD or acid reflux
In the same way that GERD can disrupt your sleep, it also has the potential to bring on symptoms after you eat. “Lying flat after a large megaesophagus can contribute to acid reflux because it allows the contents of the stomach to reflux into the oesophagus,” explains Adam. “This can make symptoms of acid reflux worse.”
She suggests that those who have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) consume more modest meals and remain seated and upright for at least half an hour after eating. Adam recommends not eating for at least two hours before bedtime if you intend to sleep in the supine position. This will help prevent acid reflux, which can be uncomfortable when lying in the supine position.
One of the most popular and effective positions for resting and sleeping is the supine position. This is also a common starting position for many of the exercises that are performed during a session of yoga or Pilates.
If you have a health condition that becomes worse when you are in this position, it is in your best interest to either avoid being in this position altogether or to spend as little time as possible in it.