Rope Connections

Exploring rope bondage and BDSM

The Ups and Downs of Suspension

Suspension is something that frequently comes up with regard to rope bondage. People see pictures of it, and are awed at how graceful, beautiful, and intense it looks.  Rope artists and riggers want to learn it, to do it; rope bottoms want to try it.

This post discusses the ins and outs, the ups and downs, and most importantly, the whys of suspension.

So What Is It?

Suspension and partial suspension is the practice of tying a person in such a way as to support their weight with rope. Partial suspension means that part of a person’s weight is supported by the rope, e.g. their torso, or their legs;
Full suspension means their entire body is lifted off the ground and is supported only by the rope.

Much of the time it’s done using shibari techniques; other times it’s done using various other means; for example, there’s nothing wrong with tying someone into a spiderweb and suspending them off the ground with that, rather than using tight shibari bindings.

Why Do We Do It?

Again, everyone has their different reasons.

Similarly to how I got into rope bondage, some people do it because their partner wants to do it. Someone might bottom to the rigger who is studying it and really wants to get into it; or someone might tie and learn to do suspension because the person who they regularly tie wants to try it.
Learning to do it because your partner is keen… well, that’s how I got into rope bondage. As far as I’m concerned, that’s perfectly legitimate.

It’s PRETTY

For myself, as a rope artist, I want to suspend people partially for the aesthetic of it. It can look freaking amazing. And I enjoy creating moments that are beautiful and have an awesome aesthetic to them.

BECAUSE IT’S SUPER HOT – AND FREAKY INTENSE

Another reason I want to do it – a much bigger reason – is because of the sheer helplessness it creates – and that is huge. I like to do partial suspensions on my bed, using the overhead rafter, because then I can suspend someone’s torso and add an extra degree of helplessness to what the person is feeling.

For illustration, picture someone on their knees, bent over, ass in the air, their torso suspended parallel to the bed in a chest harness, helpless and waiting for whatever I want to do to them… unable to run or get away because the suspension or “up line” also acts as a leash or tether. The rope is tight around them, they can’t get away, and they know damn well that they’ve been placed in a sexual position.

That is super hot. And that kind of partial suspension lends itself really well to sexual play, as well as impact play and many other kinds of play. Objectification, humiliation, if I use the right words, I can really capitalize on that as well. And if that does it for the person, I will absolutely make use of that.

You can use that added degree of helplessness to add to any kind of scene, whether it’s about sex, or fear, or sadism/masochism, or objectification, whatever.

And you can tinker with it further by adding more “up lines” or suspension lines to go around their hips or the top of their thighs, holding their hips up, preventing them from going anywhere. Their weight is still supported by their knees and legs, but they cannot lower their ass… that’s very fun. Even MORE increased helplessness and sexualisation.
That’s why partial suspension can be freaking awesome.

Full suspension is similar, but far more intense, and far more risky.
For starters, it tends to create a hell of a lot more stress on the body. Instead of having the weight partially suspended, the weight of the body is now concentrated wherever the rope is; the thinner and fewer the bands of rope, the greater the stress on that part of the body.

That can be very, very intense. And depending on how your body interprets it, very painful, or very exhilarating.

It also means you have a much higher risk. As mentioned in the Safety Series; one of the worst, most dangerous things that can happen with rope bondage is falling. When people are suspended in rope, if anything goes wrong with that rope, things can go very badly.
However, if the pressure of the rope ends up on the wrong part of a body, e.g. too close to a nerve, then nerve damage will happen. Also bad. It may be temporary, or it may be permanent.

Everyone is different, and individual experiences will differ. Plus enough rope and enough careful planning does make it easier with regard to spreading the load and easing the stress on the body.

That said, it’s very possible for the degree of intensity and the level of risk of full suspension to actually remove it from the category of being optimal for sexual or erotic play for a lot of people.

There’s a lot of work and a lot or risk, and a lot of people’s bodies require a lot of training to be able to process all that intensity and still be turned on.

That said, due to the stresses on the body, the helplessness, and the level of trust in the person doing the tying, full suspension can be phenomenal when it comes to creating some very very fun kinds of intensity.

Think about it. Literally suspended in the air by rope. Can’t touch the ground, no control, the physical, mental and emotional challenges and stresses, mixed with anything else that might be going on. The fear, however large or small, that something may go wrong. The trust in the person suspending you to make sure that it doesn’t.

The freedom from gravity, of being completely without control.

Oh yeah. That’s intense, all right.

For a rigger, or a rope artist, there’s considerable satisfaction in the skill taken to make that happen without harming them,  and to have created that degree of helplessness and intensity for the person you’re tying.

For the rope bottom, there’s all the intensity of what they experience while up there, and the endorphin high afterward. You can feel drunk, worn out, utterly relaxed after being suspended.

This is why a lot of suspension scenes can be very full on and intense without even adding in other stimuli.

When you do add other stimuli, e.g. impact, pegs, spanking, etc, the feeling of this happening in suspension amplifies the experience and the perception of helplessness much much more.

Disadvantages of Suspension:

  • aftereffects; the next few days to weeks are likely to involve sore or strained muscles, lingering marks from the rope, and sometimes emotional/psychological and of course physiological exhaustion.
  • there is a significantly increased risk of injury; nerve damage, circulation issues, strained muscles, etc.
  • It can be draining for both the bottom and the rigger.
  • The amount of learning and practice that go into suspension is not small. There are a lot of factors to include and account for. Basic knowledge of anatomy, the individual anatomy of the person you are tying, the behavior of the type of rope you’re using under tension and load, the effects that different positions have on a person when suspended, the physics of rope and ties under load and how that affects the person in those ties, how to raise and lower someone successfully, how to use equipment effectively and what kind of equipment to use… the list is not small at all. There is a considerable time and attention commitment.

Advantages of  Partial and Full Suspension:

  • Think of all the freaky, sexy, intense things you already do, and multiply that intensity by a hell of a lot. Yeah. You can do that.
  • And think of the memories you’ll make. The amazing works of art – yes, suspension photographs are popular for a reason! They’re aesthetically pleasing and often very evocative.

I’m not going to be writing about the how of suspension for awhile yet… I really want to get more grounding down myself, before I take it apart and analyse it and then reproduce it for teaching purposes.

But yeah, it’s an interesting topic, and I find talking about the “why” of things is often overlooked! So why the heck not discuss it, and share with all you folk who are curious about rope bondage.

2 Comments

  1. One of the biggest problems in newbies or simply people enjoying rope is they go to far too fast…. they take on the responsibility of suspending someone before really understanding all the interactions/tests/negotiations between top and bottom. You weren’t given the keys to your parents car while in diapers after all. Of course now those keys are easily reached at any point. (This is my opinion of course)

    • Oh, absolutely. People want to head straight for it. To be honest, all the warnings against suspension scared the hell out of me for the longest time – and even now it’s still a very cautious making experience when I do suspension related stuff. I find partial suspension is a very fun alternative which still trains people up on the principles but with considerably less risk.

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