Bondage can be a dangerous activity. Neither the human body nor ropes are completely predictable and as such, the combination of the two comes with certain inherent risks that are never completely avoidable. While there is always a chance that injury may occur, there are ways to minimize the risks. There are many texts on bondage and often they disagree on many issues. This article presents my views on bondage safety based on what I’ve read, learned and experienced first hand. Still, what may be entirely safe with one person may cause injury in someone else and in no way do I suggest that bondage will be safe even if you follow all the guidelines set forth in this text.
It is very important that all participants are aware of the potential for injury. I recommend everyone read as many texts on bondage safety as possible. Also, I recommend reading international mailing lists (such as AdultRopeArt and ShibariNetwork) where safety issues as well as both major and minor accidents are discussed in an open and honest way.
applies to "normal" bondage. For suspension, there are more and
sometimes different rules, the most important one being not to do it if
not very sure about what you are doing. That might be the best
in general anyway -- know what you are doing and don't go too fast.
Remember, you are responsible for your own actions so use your head and when necessary, get medical advice.
Before bondage, do determine the mental and physical condition of your partner (and yourself). Simply asking if they are healthy or have any medical problems isn’t sufficient. Ask specifically about relevant medical conditions like back or spinal problems, neck problems, shoulder problems, heart or circulation problems, breathing problems, fainting, epilepsy, diabetes, breast implants, etc. Please note this list is certainly not complete so ask if your partner knows of any other relevant issues. If you'll be using hemp rope, you may want to check for hemp allergy as well. If your partner does have medical conditions that could be affected, determine and discuss the possible consequences and when necessary get professional medical advice.
Do warm up your muscles before a scene. ((There is a reason both amateur and professional athletes warm up prior to playing.)) Stretching exercises are a good idea -- use "Makko Ho"exercises for example.
Do consider using a safeword. However, don't fully trust the safe word to be adequate as it doesn't provide information on exactly what has gone wrong. When a specific rope doesn't feel good, it is better to just say so than to say "orange". A safe word is an emergency break and many submissives find it difficult to use their safe word as stopping a scene by using one is not fun by definition.
As bondage is
a dangerous activity, don't
play unless you’re focused and alert. Alcohol and other drugs, physical
tiredness and lack of sleep usually
prevent you from being focused and alert.
Don't let yourself be tied by a partner you don't trust.
Rope: Make sure you use rope that is suitable for the kind of bondage you want to do and check your ropes regularly especially when using natural fibre ropes (See my article on rope for more information on rope materials. During a scene,(especially when untying), make sure not to pull the ropes over the skin too fast -- rougher material and synthetic ropes can cause serious abrasions. When in doubt, keep your hand between the rope and your partner’s skin, and you will know if you pull too fast.
|Sailmakers knife||Panic snap||Rescuehook|
You always want to be careful to prevent injury during play and there has to be good communication between the Top and bottom. The bottom must understand that if something feels like "bad pain" ((you might want to differentiate between “bad” pain and not bad pain)) it usually is. Say so! It won’t necessarily mean that you have to be completely untied, but the Top will have to solve the problem, possibly by shifting some ropes. Always paying attention also implies that you can't leave a tied up bottom alone, not even for just a moment. Well, ok, with some bondages a moment might be possible, but in that case at least stay within hearing range and make sure that you can be back within a few seconds.
If body parts like hands, ankles or feet become colder during a session, or change colour, that can indicate a circulation problem. You can always do a capillary refill test. Press at one of the bottom’s fingernails and see how long it takes before the original colour returns. If it takes more than a few seconds or longer than usual, circulation may be impaired. Tying at elbow or hollow of the knee is often asking for problems.
One of the more common emergencies during bondage is fainting. Sometimes it occurs after a long, intense session ... sometimes after a few minutes. There is a lot of speculation on the internet as to the reason fainting occurs. Factors can include having the hands tied over the head, a too-cold or too-warm environment, having had too much or too little food, and dehydration. Another possible factor could be from having locked knee joints when standing which you can try to prevent by bending your legs a little when you have to stand for a long time. But in many cases, the reason remains unknown
Fainting need not be dangerous as usually your partner will recover quickly. Lay your partner gently on the floor and remove all ropes. If your partner doesn't recover almost immediately, call for medical assistance. If your partner faints regularly, a medical check up might be smart. What's important is to be prepared when something like fainting can happen. Make sure you know what to do and keep your knife or scissors close at hand. Use panic snaps if you like. Also, make sure that your partner doesn't get hurt during the actual fainting (While fainting might not be that dangerous, hitting your head against something sharp definitely is).
The first time pluu fainted, I was scared shitless. I was very glad I wasn't the one who had tied her, and that a very experienced rigger was nearby. When it happened again later, I was more prepared, but it was still scary. Fortunately, we quickly continued tying. Also when pluu got (temporary, thank heaven) nerve damage, that was really scary. It's no fun for the bottom, but as a Top you can feel quite guilty (no pun intended). Keep talking, and be aware that accidents can happen to anyone.