Skip to content

    Lung Disease & Respiratory Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Positions for Postural Drainage

    h9991577_001.jpg

    Postural drainage is getting in positions that make it easier for mucus to drain. Chest physiotherapy is gently "clapping" parts of the body to remove mucus from the lungs. They are often used together in conditions such as cystic fibrosis or a spinal cord injury (SCI) to help loosen and remove mucus from the lungs. When mucus collects in your lungs, it increases your risk for lung infections, such as pneumonia.

    Following are general instructions for chest physiotherapy and postural drainage. Talk to your doctor about the positions you should use and how long how to do it.

    • Be sure your back is covered. Wear a shirt or blouse, or cover your back with a towel.
    • Hold each position for 5 minutes to help the mucus drain from your lungs.
    • For each position, your caregiver claps your back quickly and rhythmically. Your caregiver bends his or her hand at the knuckles to form a cup. The arrows and ovals in the above illustrations show where to clap.
    • When your caregiver claps, you should hear a hollow sound. If you hear a slapping, the hand is not cupped enough.
    • Do not clap over the spine.

    Morning is the best time to do postural drainage, because it helps clear mucus that has built up during the night. It may also be done just before bed to decrease nighttime coughing. Do not do it soon after a meal, because this may increase the chance of vomiting.

    ByHealthwise Staff
    Primary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
    Specialist Medical ReviewerNancy Greenwald, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

    Current as ofSeptember 9, 2014

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: September 09, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

    Today on WebMD

    man coughing
    You may not even know you have it.
    blood clot
    Signs of this potentially fatal complication.
     
    man coughing
    When a cold becomes bronchitis.
    human lungs
    Causes behind painful breathing, fluid buildup.
     

    chest x-ray
    Slideshow
    Bronchitis Overview
    SLIDESHOW
     
    Copd Myth Fact Quiz
    QUIZ
    Energy Boosting Foods
    SLIDESHOW
     

    lungs
    Article
    smokestacks
    Article
     
    woman coughing
    Article
    Lung xray and caduceus
    Article