Suspension bondage

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Suspension bondage (inverted position)

Suspension bondage is a BDSM technique where a victim is restrained in ropes, handcuffs, or similar equipment and then suspended in the air by use of ceiling hooks, beams, or specially designed structures. This has some dangers, and suspension should not be done by the neck or by a single limb. Suspension should be tied to as many limbs as possible, and the body, to avoid danger of asphyxiation, blood being unable to reach the limbs, or anything else. The risks are particularly high with auto-suspension.

Many people who do suspension bondage seriously (Midori, for example) treat it almost as much as an art form as they do a BDSM practice.



Suspension bondage using ropes

In partial suspension, someone is bound in way that part of his or her body weight is held by suspension ropes, cables or chains. The classic partial suspension position is to have the person balancing on one foot with part of their weight supported through a chest harness and the other leg pulled up in some direction. Someone lying on their upper back with legs tied upwards to a suspension point to pull their lower back off the ground, or in a vertical hogtie with the support ropes taking part of their weight, would also qualify as partial suspension.

In full suspension, the person is wholly supported by suspension ropes, cables or chains, and they have no contact with the ground. The position of the body in a full suspension is only limited by the endurance of the person and the skill of the binder.

The main effect of suspension bondage is to create a heightened sense of vulnerability and inescapability, as the subject is made to feel that by attempting to free themselves they may fall and hurt themselves, thus also creating a form of mental bondage in addition to the physical one that holds them. Being suspended, especially in a large open space, also creates a sense of objectification, submissiveness and erotic helplessness for the subject, which can be erotically stimulating for them and for those observing them.

Three main positions

The three main positions are vertical, horizontal and inverted.

Vertical suspension

Partial suspension

This primarily involves the person being lifted from the ground by their wrists. This is usually achieved by use of rope or by special suspension cuffs. When using rope, extreme damage can be caused to the soft tissues of the wrists, as well as reducing circulation, so being suspended by ropes can only normally be achieved for a very short period of time. Often in fiction and movies a person may be pictured hanging from metal cuffs or handcuffs. This is not possible, as the weight that would be distributed onto the wrists would do great damage. It is therefore commonly suggested that visualisations of this method of suspension are on the whole fictitious. The safest and "most comfortable" method of suspension by the wrists is to use suspension cuffs as they are specifically designed to spread the weight around the wrist as much as possible.

An alternative method of vertical suspension is to use a bondage rope harness. With the ropes tied around the body and in particular around the upper arms close to the shoulders as well as around the upper leg and through the groin, it is possible to suspend a person with ropes attached to these areas similar to the way a parachute is attached to a person. In this position the arms and legs may be left to hang free, as the person would have great difficulty getting free without assistance.

Horizontal suspension

Horizontal, face up
Horizontal, face down

This position has the subject bound in a horizontal position, sometimes face up but usually face down. The body is lifted into this position either by attaching bondage equipment to the ends of the limbs, or by securing bondage equipment to various areas of the body, or a mixture of both. When just by the limbs, ropes or suspension cuffs are attached to the wrists and ankles, with the subject weight born by these areas, the limbs may be brought together forming a hogtie position, or kept apart. When the body itself is used to suspend the person, they may first be tied into a conventional bondage position first such as a hogtie or ball tie, then by attaching ropes or chains to certain ropes under areas of the body able to take weight the person is lifted into the air.

Inverted suspension

Being suspended upside down can be a very hard position to maintain as a result of the position causing the blood to rush to the head. This means that this position probably can't be maintained for any length of time and can even lead to the person blacking out. To be suspended in this position, ropes or suspension cuffs are used to lift the person into the air by their ankles.

Unlike when a person is suspended by their wrists, rope suspension around the ankles can be maintained for much longer as the ankle region naturally is able to take far more weight and stress than the wrists. This is especially so if boots are used as the ropes can run around the outside surface of the boot thus protecting the skin from damage. The person may be suspended with their legs together, or held apart either by using a suspension spreader bar or by securing the ankles to two separate locations. With the legs held in this position, the subject may have an increased sense of vulnerability as their genital region would be easily accessible. A variation on this position is to tie rope to the wrists and pull the arms up behind the person, securing the rope to either the suspension spreader bar or to a securing point between the two legs, resulting in what is called a suspension bow. In this position, if the subject is a female, her breasts would be pointing almost straight down, depending on the strictness of the position, and nipple clamps and weights can be added for painful stimulation. The clamps may alternatively be secured to a point on the floor, limiting the subject's ability to struggle or move at all without causing pain.


The danger most often associated with suspension bondage, over and above the usual risks inherent in bondage, is falling - whether due to a weak suspension point, faulty equipment or poor technique. Inverted positions are especially hazardous in this regard, since a head-first fall of only a few inches can kill or paralyse someone. Less obvious dangers include nerve compression and resulting damage, circulation problems and fainting, and the recently recognized harness hang syndrome (FFS 1997, Seldon 2002). Extracting a bottom safely out of suspension bondage can be difficult if they are unconscious, or if a winch or hoist jams. It is a good idea to work with spotters who can help get the bound person down in an emergency.


Because of the need to suspend the bound person safely, suspension bondage has a wider range of specialist equipment associated with it than other types of bondage.

See also


Federation Francaise de Speleologie, Harness Induced Pathology, Petzl Work/Rescue Catalog, 1997. [1]

Paul Seldon, Harness suspension: review and evaluation of existing information, UK Health and Safety Executive, Contract Research Report 451, 2002. [2]

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