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The Safety Series Part 1: Physical Risk with Rope Bondage

So rope bondage risk and safety is fairly important to know if you’re going to be tying someone up, or being tied up.

I wasn’t planning to get to it quite so soon, but after my last post someone messaged me to ask that it goes up, as there is apparently not enough readily available information on that.

Okay, no problem.
However;
There is a LOT to cover when it comes to safety. So I’ve decided to turn it into a sort of mini-series, splitting the topic into different posts.

I’m going to go ahead and state right now that while there is a lot that can go wrong, and it looks scary as fuck, most of it can be avoided by using common sense, getting to know each other,  both parties assuming equal responsibility for safety, and communicating instead of staying silent when something might be going wrong.

I’m going to put the emphasis for safety on both or all parties involved in rope bondage. That responsibility is shared. Communication has to be shared amongst all involved.

There are no absolutes. Everybody’s body is different, and so is everyone’s psyche and relationship dynamic. That’s a lot of variation. So I will talk in terms of commonalities, likely events, and risk, which is the POTENTIAL for things to go wrong.

Physical Risk With Rope Bondage

Everyone hears about rope bondage. People being tied up for kinky or sexy times is not a new concept. It’s actually a reasonably prevalent one in our culture, and growing all the time, especially post 50 Shades of Grey.
And it is hot, there’s no denying that. A lot of people have had a lot of very, very fun times with rope and rope bondage, and it was sexy as all hell.

However, just because a lot of people are doing it, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t come with risk.

Even in the lightest, most fun bondage session, it’s common for there to be some physical side effects afterwards. A bruise where a knot dug in, some lightly abraded skin from struggling, rope marks, tender muscles, stiffness, you name it. Some people go to sleep that night feeling fine and happy post orgasm and wake up sore as hell the next day.
That’s bondage at it’s best.

Any kind of bondage is an inherently risky activity. There may be common references to it in the media, so that it seems almost “normal” and therefore a safe activity; but it is a risky activity. It is edge play. People can get very, very hurt, and have long term impairments resulting from bondage.
Risk is the potential for things to go wrong; for damage to occur. It can be minimized and reduced. But it can never be eliminated entirely.

The point is to CONTROL that risk. To minimize it, to reduce it, by knowing what can go wrong, and working to prevent that. Nobody is perfect; no one can control every factor of a situation. But you can definitely lessen the likelihood of things going wrong, to the point where it will hardly ever happen.

This post discusses the dangers; the next post discusses ways to prevent said dangers. You’ll definitely want to read that one next, it’s very helpful to calm the nerves.

 

A Few Things That Can Go Wrong

Asphyxiation (death from not being able to breathe)
Most often caused by rope going around the front of the neck, tied off, and then no one fixing the situation when breathing issues develop. There’s a higher risk if there isn’t anyone else monitoring the tied up person. Can also occur due to wicked asthma attack and no one having the inhaler, or the asthmatic person being tied, gagged, and unable to communicate that they need their inhaler, as well as other various events. Not really that common, but very possible under the right circumstances. When death does not occur, if air to the brain is cut off for long enough, you can still get wonderful amounts of brain damage and permanently impaired cognitive functioning.

Circulation Impairment
Very common. Usually caused by rope being too tight. Easily fixed.

However, when left to ridiculous lengths of time, hypoxia sets in,  tending to result in a number of complications; temporary loss of function in the limb, the potential for blood clots, the build up of “dead blood” and other poisons in the tied off area, (which when released back into the system can cause a number of issues including heart attack), all sorts of crap. Given long enough without good circulation, sometimes the limb has to be amputated. Fortunately, there are lots of warning signs for badly impaired circulation, and the time for it to become problematic tends to be well over an hour.

Falling
Falling is bad. Falling is probably the number one most common cause of serious injury from rope bondage. When someone falls and their ability to protect themselves is compromised by bondage, you get wonderful things like bruises, broken bones, torn muscles, damaged joints and ligaments, scarring, and head injuries.

Head injuries and damage to the spine are probably the worst things that can happen from falling; those have dramatic and long term consequences. More likely to happen in situations involving silly ideas from idiots who say something  like “hey sub! I want you to climb this narrow flight of stairs, wearing your heels, and with your hands tied behind your back.”

Not the best plan, that one.

Falling is also one of the biggest risks of any kind of suspension.

Having someone standing with their legs or ankles tied dramatically increases the risk of falling as well.

Nerve damage!
So it turns out the human body really needs nerves for little things like being able to move and feel things. And rope tied tightly enough or putting enough pressure on a nerve can actually damage it!
What’s a little scary about nerve damage is sometimes you can’t pick it. The signs of it tend to vary considerably, from numbness, to tingling, to sharp shooting pains, to a vague sense of something “not right” to sometimes nothing at all.

This tends to happen when rope is put in “bad places”. Useful fact; non-painful tightness doesn’t tend to cause any more than temporary impairment of nerve function at worst. However, again, when there is significant pressure involved (e.g. with suspension) again you have that increased risk of nerve injury. Another fun fact, some people’s nerves are more exposed than others.

Everybody’s body is different.

Fainting!
Can happen for any number of reasons; however, more likely in standing positions; when not having eaten or drunk sufficiently in the last 24 hours; when alcohol or drugs are involved; when dealing with severe anxiety, fear, or pain; when unwell and trying to fight through that. Fainting tends to lead to falling; see above. It also tends to be prefaced or followed by nausea and vomiting (Don’t know if you’re into roman showers, but I can tell you now it’s not my thing).

Medical Emergency
Sometimes medical shit happens for apparently no reason, and with little warning; but let’s face it, bondage can be pretty intense. Intensity causes stress on the body, and can trigger things off. Additionally, people with pre-existing conditions are at higher risk. Epilepsy, for example, is the sort of thing that can cause problems. So are allergies. You probably don’t want to be tied in beeswax treated rope if you have a bee allergy, just saying (picked that tip up from Lady Disgrace). Grass or plant allergies may also be a problem if you get tied in natural fibre rope. Any pre-existing medical condition should be considered before doing bondage.

(“So, you’ve got synesthesia eh? What do you taste/smell/see when the rope goes here?”)

Environmental Emergency
Earthquakes, fire, etc. We all know that can happen. It’s a damn good idea to be able to get people out of rope FAST in those circumstances.

The Predator
And of course the scary person. We all know about the scary person. The scary person who you think is fine; until suddenly there’s non-consensual shit happening. Until suddenly you realize that someone has decided they really and truly want to fuck you up, and you’re in a bad way to prevent that. Being bound will do that to a person. However, sometimes the scary person is the one you think is going to go into the rope, and then really fucked up shit happens.

There are all KINDS of things that can go wrong. Some of them you just can’t anticipate. Some of them, however, you can prepare for. You can considerably lessen the likelihood of them occurring and have a very good time instead.

In the next post, we’ll discuss ways to lessen the likelihood of physical problems during/because of rope bondage. You should read that. It’s very reassuring.