Inverted suspension. what's the limiting factor?

topic posted Wed, April 16, 2008 - 9:15 AM by  Jay

Hi all,

Just out of curiosity, in putting someone in full inverted suspension, what do you find to be the longest someone can be kept that way, and what causes them to want/need to be taken down?


posted by:
offline Jay
SF Bay Area
  • Unsu...
    The party is coming to an end and the cleaning crew would like her out of the way.

    Of course, it depends on the person suspended. How fit are they?

    It depends on the method of suspension. How comfortable is it? Are there really sore spots anywhere?

    I have done quick ones that didn't work well, I've done quick ones that worked well, but that is all the bottom can take, and I've done very long ones.
    • I would agree it has a lot to do with fitness. Also the harness itself has a lot to do with it. A comfortable harness will extend the time. However, the inversion does create unusual blood flow and as has been said sinus considerations.

      • I suspect that the ultimate "rate limiting step" in inverted suspension would be positional asphyxia. Given that the weight of the intestines would be pressing on the underside of the diaphragm, and that the position itself might pull the chest into an "inhaled" position (thus having the suspended person work to exhale, which is normally a passive process), this would likely result in the inverted person needing to "really" come down after a while (or they would die from exhaustion of the breathing muscles), but given that it often takes some hours for positional asphyxia to become significant (and, trust me, the inverted person knows that this is happening to them), that "while" could certainly be quite a while.

        There would also be an increase in blood pressure within the brain which could lead to a cerebral bleed, particularly in older people, however such bleeds are often very painful, and thus the appearance of a headache in an inverted person (which often precedes the actual breakage of the blood vessel) would be cause for getting them down promptly.

        So...if a person in inverted suspension has no difficulty in breathing, and no headache (or other "bad pain"), then they likely could be kept as they are.

        I suspect that if issues such as pain caused by the harness itself could be eliminated, many people could be kept in inverted suspension for as long as two hours without significant physical risk.


  • I've found individual subs to be quite different in this regard, moreso than other types of suspensions. So people who value their time might want to just stop reading now.

    Ok, don't say I didn't warn you.

    I've had someone inverted for probably 45 minutes, and the only reason she had to come down was because someone else needed the playspace. We'd done similar ties numerous times and she is very good at knowing and communicating her limits. I wouldn't put most people up that long, certainly not if I hadn't played that way with her before.

    I've found that subs either like it, and can last a very long time, or they find it uncomfortable in their sinuses/head/whatever, and want to come down after 5-10 minutes.

    On two separate occasions, I've had a sub who loves staying inverted a long time want to come down because of heartburn. In both cases, they had been drinking lots of fluids that day. One instance, I was the one who went and got the girl the huge glass of orange juice, so I consider that my bad. It was, however, quite tasty orange juice.

    I usually suspend with most of the weight on a waist-belt, and fold one leg down, so I guess that's not really a *fully* inverted suspension. I only have one partner I fully suspend from her ankles (or a single ankle.) Note: we practiced this *a lot* and she has very muscular legs and ankles, I don't recommend this position for everyone. Even so, after 5-10 minutes her ankles are hurting enough that it's no fun for her, and my particular brand of sadism excludes joints, so I'll take her down.

    The "waist-belt" is the position that gets the most attention from "concerned onlookers" when I tie. But, I've never had anyone pass out from an inverted suspension, nor break a blood vessel in their eye, nor have any sort of lasting damage from the rope. Of course, this is a very risky tie if the rig is tied incorrectly and fails, so I don't recommend it for people who aren't rock solid with their rope skills.
    • The waist belt version on men is also tricky. Not having hips you have to secure it a little more and then the front knot ends up jammed against their pink bits. An added attraction for many.

      I've had males that could stay there for 45 minutes or more. Personally I can't last 10 minutes.
  • As a bottom, I have gone close to an hour inverted at the longest, I think. If I am lucky enough, I get inverted 1-2x a week. This is my favourite position so I get to go upside down a lot.

    Usually, it is the pain of the ropes or some other form of play that wears me out first. In a very few rare cases, the pressure in my head has made me want to come down.

    I think the cardiovascular fitness of the individual is the single most determining factor. However, as has been stated previously, there are other factors that infringe on comfort.

    As a top, the only inverted suspension I do is a 2 column tie around each lower leg and thigh. I learned it from Jim Duvall and agree with his assessment that it the least strenuous way to support the body upside down. I find it quite comfortable, as have my bottoms. With this tie, it's not the ropes that make me/them want to come down.

  • What the hell… I’ll chime in.

    Fri, April 18, 2008 - 12:35 PM
    The inverted suspensions I rig initiate from a standing position. Rotation to an inverted position is dynamic allowing a return to a standing position in a smooth fluid action (takes about 5 second for either possition to be achieved).

    Those I play with can be rotated to, and from, a standing position—allowing the opportunity for “rest” during the scene. This said many I’ve inverted for play (at their request) don’t want to be “let up” until the conclusion of play.

    Thus, as Mike pointed out, different partners different scene lengths and scene dynamics.

    Some like it light, some like it intense, most like it somewhere in-between.

    My input regarding limits: No recent head traumas, no migraines, no eye conditions or sinus issues that increased blood pressure to the head might complicate, no having recently drank alcohol (orange juice is okay – smile), no having just done drugs (in reference to SF BDSM discussion – ongoing), no physical or physiological concerns the bottom has with being upside-down (if they’re comfortable, I’m not rigging an inversion).

    If all these things check out, and yes I ask (playfully so, but I do ask), we’re playing!

    Length of time up, negotiable…
  • i will stay upsidedown as long as the rigger will let me.
    all i need is a simple waist tie and i can flip myself upsidedown.
    of course, i still need someone to tie a leg into the ring.

    but once i am up there? 45 hour. and it gets even better
    if a swivel is hooked up to the ring. if i can spin in circles while
    hanging upsidedown, i last even longer. and best of all is when the
    rigger is pushing me from side to side while i am simultaneously spinning in tight circles
    from the rescue swivel while upsidedown...if that makes any sense.

    i spent so much time upsidedown that i noticed i was starting to build
    up callouses above my
  • I've done various kinds of inverted suspensions as a bottom, and in my experience the ankles-only tie is the most difficult. With no protecton for my ankles I can stay up a very short time, maybe 5 minutes at the most.

    I have done it with thick socks inside sheepskin-lined slippers with a figure-8 tie around the ankle & foot, and with thick socks inside rigid suspension boots. With both, I thought that the limiting factor would be the stress on my ankles but that turned out to be not quite true. The first time, I became nauseated after about 10 minutes and found out that the words "I'm going to throw up" are better than a safe word for getting released quickly (I did not throw up but I probably would have if I'd stayed up longer.)

    The second try lasted about 20 minutes and I was careful not to eat or drink anything beforehand. I had no nausea but the suspension boots were a little too big for me; I began to feel that my feet were going to start slipping out of them and my top wisely decided to end it.

    I would really like to try this with well-fitting figure skates. They are designed to be worn very snugly and support the ankles. It would be really cool to do this with the rope tied only to the skate blade, but the attachment of the blade to the sole or the sole to the boot upper might not be strong enough. A figure-8 tie around the ankle & foot would work. (The blades are designed to be removed without damaging the boot, so that would be an option.)

    My ultimate goal is to be suspended by one ankle only, out-of-doors from a tree limb, emulating the "Hanged Man" Tarot card. I have yet to find a top for this.
    • "My ultimate goal is to be suspended by one ankle only, out-of-doors from a tree limb, emulating the "Hanged Man" Tarot card. I have yet to find a top for this."

      If you are truly comfortable with the risk of injury to your ankle, I know a knowledgeable and mean rope top who would do this suspension. Are you willing to have a limp for a few months after a short scene? Because ankles are not designed to support weight upside down.

      I'm all about being a PRICK, (Personal Responsibility Informed Consensual Kink) so good luck and have fun.

      • I've done the Hanged man threee times, theres pix in my profile. It starts with the waist harness that Raina was describing, which is a wonderful beginning for all kinds of interesting positions, and then my "standing' leg is tied to the rigging and my bent leg is tied into place. It is my personal businsee card these days.
        One ankle only sounds like a recipe for disaster.
        Unlike Raina, I can live perfectly happily never being suspended from a swivel ever again. Yup, "I"m gonna puke" is much beter than a safeword when somebody's expensive rope is added to the equation!
        • Qatana wrote:
          <<I've done the Hanged man threee times, theres pix in my profile. It starts with the waist harness that Raina was describing,>>

          Actually the hip harness that I've used to invert you is a quite different technique from the waist belt that Raina is talking about. In the former the harness stays on the hips and transfers force through the top of the butt. In the latter the belt of rope starts on the lower chest and slides down to the waist to catch on the iliac crests during the flip.

          As some general advice to folks wanting to see, experience or learn how to do edgy rope play (and I consider all inverted suspension techniques edge play), the place to go is Shibaricon.
    • Most bodies are going to look really different hanging from one ankle vs, hanging partially from one ankle and partially from a waist belt, So I understand the desire to do a true one-ankle suspension.

      That being said, most renderings of "the hanging man" I have seen don't seem very realistic anyway, with the leg and spine parallel:

      I would say build up to this. I don't agree that you are unnecessarily going to end up limping for weeks , but it's certainly a possibility.

      Do scenes hanging from both ankles, and do a scene hanging from one ankle with your arms free to push back against the floor. Hang for a very short time, and see how you feel afterwards. Don't wear yourself out, spread this out over a few weeks.

      I'd recommend against trying to use figure skates for suspension. Or any other footwear that wasn't designed specifically for suspension.

      Also, when you finally do go outside, watch out for poison oak!
    • as someone who considers themselves a fairly intense rope bottom, i am not sure this position
      is even possible.
      "the hanged man" look that i do fairly frequently (upsidedown, arms tied behind back,
      one leg folded and one leg straight) actually has a fair about of support in it. the main tie around the waist,
      the straight leg tied up and supported, and the hands tied in.....all of this combines to such a comfortable
      and well weight-balanced tie that i can easily be upsidedown for an hour.

      but by one ankle alone? errrr. i am flexible, in good shape, and a raging painslut to boot and there is no way
      i could take a tie like that.

      i know, cause i tried. the dirty lil secret to some of the more intense "WOW!" bondage pics you see in books
      and floating on the net? they are tied into position on the ground, hoisted up by block and tackle, only have to hold the
      amazingly elaborate/painful/ridiculously bendy position for the 30 secs or a min needed to snap the pic, and then
      down they come.

      Sir and i tried a tie with all the weight supported by just one leg, ("classic hanged man" without the waist support) and nope.
      wasn't gonna work. no way.i lasted all of 4 mins. the time spent getting me into the time, getting me upsidedown, and then
      hanging with all my weight supported by by just one limb? sucky doesn't even begin to cover it.

      just my 2 cents. i am sure someone might feel otherwise, but this was my experience..
      • ".... only have to hold the amazingly elaborate/painful/ridiculously bendy position for the 30 secs or a min needed to snap the pic ...."

        That would be fine with me. I just want to be able to say I did it, with photographic proof. Making memories for my old age.
        • *grin*

          You are so cool.
          If you get something set up, I'll gladly be the photo/rope assistant.

          • Thank you Sophia, I'll keep that in mind.
            • i have something to add to this thread.
              i have changed my position on the whole ankle tie thing.

              earlier this week i was having dinner at a certain well-known riggers house.
              the topic of this thread came up and he informed me that it is completely possible
              to hang someone by their ankle alone. "it will suck, and you will want to come down
              pretty quickly, but it can be done with no damage whatsoever to the ankle or foot."

              of course, this was something i had to see for myself, and i promptly offered up my ankle.
              the secret it the tie (he used multiple strands wrapped and woven in a very specific way)
              and how you lay the tie against the ankle. sure enough, i was hanging upsidedown supported
              by only my ankle. he was right, it DID suck, and i couldn't take it very long, but it is perfectly
              no damage to my ankle at all.
              just thought you might like to know susan...
              • " .... no damage to my ankle at all.
                just thought you might like to know susan... "

                Thank you Raina.

                Having done it with two ankles for 15 - 20 minutes and walked away afterward without any damage, I am confident I can do it with one, if only for a minute or two. And yes, the tie is crucial. The tie that used on me was what I call a "figure 8" with multiple wraps woven around both the foot and the ankle, not unlike a bandage for a sprained ankle.

                It sounds like you had an interesting experience. Thanks for sharing. If there's a picture of the tie he used anywhere on-line, I'd appreciate having a link to it.

              • Hmmmm......[thinking]

                Well, an ankle is basically "a bunch of bones held together by ligaments" -- more particularly, the bones do not particularly reinforce each other, especially in an inverted position. Therefore the strength of the ankle is basically a function of the strength of the ankle ligaments.

                IMX, there is really no reliable warning sign of when such ligaments are about to fail -- other than the presence of "bad pain" but that could last anywhere from a few seconds to, I suppose, hours before the ligament actually failed. In other words, there doesn't seem to be any readily detectable warning sign that the ligament is "just about to" fail. Such a ligament failure would lead to a badly sprained ankle, resulting in weeks to months of pain and limitation of usage, and the sprained joint often never heals back to its full strength. (I sprained one of my wrists while hanging from a bar when I was 17, and more than 40 years later it's still significantly weaker than the wrist that was never sprained.)

                So...where does that leave us? When he says "it will suck" does that translate as "you will experience significant amounts of "bad pain"?

                In particular, how does this rigger "know" that such a suspension will (presumably never) result in no damage whatsoever to the ankle or foot? How does he establish that it hasn't just simply been raw blind luck that he has (so far at least) always taken his suspendees down before the strength of their ligaments was exceeded?

                In other words, how can he prove that he just plain and simply hasn't been lucky?

                Inquiring minds and all that.



                • The rigger in question (no it wasn't me) is one of the best bondage riggers in the world. I don't say that lightly. He's *really* good and knows how to tie people of all shapes and sizes, and all experience levels. Raina is a professional model, and has quite a high strength-to-weight ratio. The rigger has worked with her multiple times and knows her well.

                  I doubt he would have made the offer to demonstrate the tie to simply anyone, not left anyone up longer than he deemed safe.

                  On a general note, I've never heard of any cases of a sprained ankle from an inverted suspension with rope, or cuffs. On the other hand, I know personally of at least two serious shoulder ligiment injuries from "strappado" type ties, and at least one hospital visit from a full suspension by both wrists. (Note: I have yet to meet the rigee/rigger combo that can do a wrists only full suspension safely.) I see beginners put what I consider waaaaay too much stress on shoulders and wrists a lot at public dungeons and fly-by-night porno websites. Add to that the dozens and dozens of people who get nerve damage from poorly done "chest and arm" harnesses.

                  Yes, we might all be "lucky" that we haven't damaged someone badly from a single-ankle tie, but we have proven ourselves stupid with ties that seem less painful and less risky.

                  On another note, at almost every class I teach, someone has previous shoulder or knee damage from skiing, skateboarding, a car accident, or what have you. This is at least 1 out of 10 people. In the last year alone, of the 10 or so pro models I work with, three have been in non-bondage accidents that caused them to have to lose time at their dayjobs. In short, stay safe, don't go out, get tied up!
                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.
                    Jay, the tie that was used on me actually did not put all the weight on my ankle ligaments. The upper half of the "figure 8" was snug around my lower leg bones, just above the ankle bone. Therefore I think that at least some of the strain was transferred to my knee and hip joints. I'd be interested to know if Raina's was tied in the same way.

Recent topics in "Advanced Rope Bondage"