Bondage safety for bottoms, by Guilty

This article written by Guilty and cross-posted with permission.

Copyright: creative commons by-nc-nd

Introduction

A while ago, I asked “What should I do about a bad rigger?”. In that, I included several options, all to some extent a form of “policing the scene”. I don’t quite believe in policing the scene, though I have warned people about Bad Riggers, and will again if I think it’s necessary. However, I believe that empowerment of potential victims is usually a better option.

I strongly believe that rope bunnies should educate themselves on bondage safety. Because, dear bunny, it’s your body and your life that’s on the line, every time you let yourself be tied up. Of course, the rigger assumes a lot of responsibility when tying you, but YOU are responsible for a) choosing your rigger and b) communicating potential health problems in a timely and correct fashion. Bot are pretty damn hard if you know even less about bondage than a bad rigger. So that’s why I wrote this article for you as a start.

In the remainder of this article I’m going to teach you some stuff about bondage safety that should enable you to assess the quality of your rigger and to communicate health issues. Although I believe all of these points to be generally good advice, at times a rigger might do something else than what I teach here, and perhaps for good reasons. So a single breach of what I write here is probably not a reason not to let yourself be tied by someone. But you have every right in such a case to ask for the reason. It’s your body. And if a rigger fails many or most of these points, well, you do the math.

This article might me updated in the future.

Part I – Assessing your rigger

So, how can you assess your rigger? Before you get yourself tied, you could take a look at his (from this point on I’m gonna be a little sexist and use his, of course there are female riggers too) equipment. And you can assess his tying skills, as he’s tying you for the first time, or if you see him tie someonelse first.

Material, girl
When he gets out his ropes, it’s time for you to evaluate his equipment. We can’t expect you to know the ins and outs of evaluating a hardpoint, but the Two Big Guys test (humping on the hardpoint with two heavy guys two prove it’s solid) is mainly silly. You see, that humping may just have caused the hardpoint to become even less solid and to the brink of failure. So if you see a rigger do this, you may well ask him what he’s trying to achieve and he thinks about the construction of the hard point.

Secondly, take a look at the ropes. They shouldn’t show tear and wear and be clean. For safety reasons, bondage rope should not be stretchy (if it is, the bondage will loosen over time and wander away from the safe places of your body, possibly towards less safe places). It also should be strong enough to do what you are planning to do. That means for suspension, you need at least something like hemp, jute or synthetics, and not cotton. Partial suspensions can turn into full suspensions anytime, so the same rule of thumb applies. On the floor, stregth is less important. In general 6mm is fine, even with hemp or jute, unless you are really heavy, 5mm is getting more and more popular but requires more skill and provides less margin for error. I would not recommend this for suspension, unless you are working with an expert rigger or are <=55kg. If you don’t know what kind of rope it is, just ask!

Thirdly, your rigger should have something present to cut you out. Untying usually is safer, but if ropes jam, cutting can be necessary. Normal scissors and knives are dangerous, a rescue hook or EMT shears are recommended.

Rescue hook

 

Fourthly, panic snaps are usually bad news when used in suspension. If your rigger wants to use them, make sure they are officially rated ones and not those simple snaps from the horse riding shop.

My hands are tied, my body’s bruised…, tying the wrists
As tying the wrists is often the first thing a rigger does, this the time for you to evaluate his skill at probably the most important bondage skill there is: the single or double column tie. And with “columns” we usually mean your arms or legs (no offence).
The point with any single or double column tie is, it should not tighten any further after it is tied. You have vulnerable nerves at and near your wrists, so a non-constricting tie is essential. So, the pressure should be evenly divided over all wraps around your wrist, and if it gets tighter and tighter over time, that’s a pretty bad sign.

Speed & fluidity
Good riggers tie fluidly. This is not necessarily the same as fast. Fast, imho, is overrated. Fluidity is knowing what you want to tie, tying it calmly and efficiently without too much fumbling. Of course, there is nothing wrong to work with a less experienced rigger. Even the best riggers had to learn. But keep in mind that if it takes longer and more fumbling to get you into the ropes, it is likely to take longer and more fumbling to get you out of them. That means you may have to communicate problems earlier. If a rigger is less experienced, not very fluid or outright clumsy, and wants to do suspension, you might want to insist on him using a spotter to help if things go wrong.

The takate-ding-a-dong, well, eh, box-tie and other chest harnesses
Chest harnesses mainly come in two tyes. Those with ropes over your upper arms, and those with ropes only around your chest. They both have advantages and disadvantages. Let’s start with the chest only type. In general, this harness is safer. It doesn’t go over vulnerable nerves and can be quite tight. However, when used for suspension, it may impede your breathing rather quickly. Make sure the lower wraps (that is those ropes below your titties) do not constrict your diaphragm.

The harness with ropes over the arms is gentler on your breath (though this one too could constrict your diaphragm), but it has ropes over your upper arms. And there are vulnerable nerves in your upper arms that your rigger has to avoid. Keep in mind at all times that sleeping or tingling hands are as likely to be caused by these ropes over your upper arms, than by the ropes at your wrists. If your rigger fails to shift these ropes when you communicate problems, INSIST. It’s your fingers.
This harnes should be pretty snug. Many inexperienced riggers, because they know about the nerve-issue, tie it rather loose. But (like with stretchy ropes), that means that the ropes can wander away, and even if they were tie right at the start, they may still end up over those nerves. If tied correctly, pretty tight is okay. Ropes, however should not cross, and tension should be even. Ropeplacement left and right should be symmetrical. It’s highly unlikely that the nerves are located differently in your two armes.
Second, the upper wraps (that’s the ropes above your titties) should not end up at the front of your neck. Most box-ties use cinches (or more properly, kannuki) to prevent this. There are some harnesses that achieve this differently. But if your riggers is not highly experienced and uses a harness without cinches, ask him why. It’s your neck.

without cinches
the danger
with cinches

Thirdly, especially in shibari style bondage, when the rigger runs out of rope, he attaches a new one. This gives a little knot at the point where the ropes are joined. This knot should never be under your arm-pit or on your upper arms. Just never.

Check it out (hey hey hey)
With any wrist or box-tie, your rigger shouyld frequently check your hands (because of that nerve thingy). He should check for any weird sensations, tingling, numbness, pain and movement. With movement it is important that he checks if you can bend all fingers and thumb, and if you can spread your fingers. The latter uses different nerves.

What about me legs?
Yes, your legs have nerves too, and they too might be compressed. The femoral nerve, high up in your legs can easily be compressed in horizontal face down suspensions, or in sitting/bend forward positions. Symptoms of this can occur lower down your legs as well. Say, a tingling feeling or a dead spot around your knees is likely a symptom of femoral nerve compression.

Part II – communicating problems

What we got here is…. failure…. to communicate….
This part is somewhat briefer than part I, but as important. If you have decided your rigger stood the test and you’re gonna do some bondage or hanging around (har har), you should communicate any problems instantly. Problems that should be mentioned ASAP are:

Numbness, tingling, itching or any other funny feeling
Pain, especially when it feels like “bad pain” (you will develop a feeling for that)
Nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, the feeling someone is stealing your air and muscle cramps ( Muscle cramps, if not addressed properly can lead to long-term injuries, so don’t push through them).

I am not saying these issues must always be addressed immediately, but I recommend you communicate them so your rigger can decide what to do or not to do. But if you disagree with that decision, it’s your body.

It ain’t over till it’s over
When doing suspension, it’s not over when you are standing at your feet again. Matter of fact, this is the very moment you are most likely to faint. So when you start feeling dizzy, do not wait to tell.

Part III – first aid

Okay, this probably something your rigger ought to know (as is the case with this whole article), but it can’t hurt to know a bit about it yourself. Now, I ain’t no doctor, so all that follows is not medical advice, nor is it a first aid training. Just a few things you might consider.

Fainting
Fainting usually isn’t bad. Unless you hit your head when falling, you stay suspended while conscious, or when there is an underlying medical cause for fainting. Usually, you will be back in a few seconds as soon you’re flat on the floor. If it takes more than 20-30 seconds, your rigger may want to consider calling an ambulance. If it takes over a minute, emergency services need to be called. You are best positioned in the recovery position (on your side), while your breathing is checked every 30-60 seconds. If regain consciousness, you might feel a little dizzy afterwards. Don’t get up too quickly. If it happens regularly, definetely get a medical check up to rule out any medical conditions.

Fact is however, if youré out, there’s nothing you can do.

Nerve compression
Even if you have a careful, qualified rigger, nerve compression still might occur as it is an inherent risk of bondage. So what can you do? First of all, do not compress the place of injury (that was what caused the injury in the first place. When a nerve is compressed, bruising and swelling may occur internally, which means that the damage might still be increasing after the ropes are removed. You might, therefore, apply ice or a cold pack at the site of injury to diminish the swelling. Taking an over the counter anti-inflammatory drug (Voltaren, Ibuprofen, Aleve (naproxen) – don’t mix them though) can also help. Paracetamol is useles as it’s not an anti-inflammatory. As said, this is not medical advice and you should consult your GP before taking medication you are not familiar with and check for drug interactions. Note that both ice and anti-infammatories are only useful directly after the injury, not three days later.

Over the next days, keep an eye out for slight improvements, which is a good sign. Nerve damage may take up to over a year to heal or may be permanent, but often it takes a few weeks. You might apply heat packs to the site of injury to stimulate blood flow and nerve regeneration. Taking a good vitamin b complex supplement (no medical advice) can also help, as nerve regeneration depends on several of b vitamins.