File:Bent forward strappado.jpg

Strappado bondage is a term describing a position and technique used in BDSM play. A person's arms are bound behind their back, then by use of some method of attachment such as a rope or chain that runs from their wrists to a securing point above, their arms are lifted up behind them until the person is forced to bend forward.

The term "strappado" used to describe this position refers to a method of torture that is still practiced in some countries today, and has its roots in a form of medieval torture by the same name. While the strappado bondage position is considered to be a form of BDSM "play", it shares its basic principles of restraint with the method of torture and therefore can very easily become just that if not practised safely. In particular, there is a risk of the sort of injuries discussed in the strappado article.


While the general principle of a bondage strappado remains the same - with the arms bound upwards behind the subject - there are various different methods and styles used to achieve this. The different styles can be summarised as follows and several can be combined:

  • legs apart - spreader bar or attachment points
  • legs together
  • elbows bound / not bound (see elbow bondage)
  • rope around neck/collar pulling down to force increased bend (in the interests of safety, it is important to ensure that there is no pressure on the front of the neck)
  • hair bondage or other head bondage to pull head back

Also, the person may have a gag or blindfold. The exact technique used is very much related to the purpose of using this particular position in BDSM play:

  • To reduce or inhibit the subject's ability to struggle by placing the body in an awkward position such that any struggling on their part could result in them losing balance. As a result of this, it is the bound subject who chooses not to move for fear of falling over.
  • To create a sense of vulnerability in the subject's mind by exposing their buttocks and genital area.
File:Strappado - Model Jassi.jpg

The more common method of strappado often depicted in BDSM publications has the subject's legs bound together at the ankles and just above the knees. The arms may or may not be bound at the elbows. The arms are pulled up behind the subject and they are placed into the strappado position. A variation on this is to tie a loose-fitting rope around the subject's neck and to tie this rope to the ankle ropes, causing the subject to bend over more. This result in them having to bend their knees and push their buttocks further out. A collar around the neck is a safer method for securing the rope, as a loose rope can tighten and strangle the person.

A different style is to make use of a spreader bar. By keeping the legs far apart both the sense of imbalance as well as that of vulnerability is increased. Making the subject wear high-heeled shoes in this position helps still further.

If the elbows are to be bound together, even for very flexible people it is rarely possible to bind them touching together. As the arms are lifted towards a horizontal position in relation to the position of the subject's torso, the shoulder joints shift into a different position preventing the usual movement that occurs when the elbows are drawn together.

Other rope techniques are sometimes added such as a crotch rope and breast bondage. The use of tight-fitting garments such as a corset increases the visual appeal of the position as well as restricting the subject's movements.

The use of head bondage allows the subject's head to be pulled back to a front-facing position as opposed to hanging towards the floor. In addition to the restrictiveness that this causes, if a suitable ring gag is used the subject may feel increasingly exposed to penetration and because the subject's head in facing down drooling may also occur.

With the breasts pointing towards the floor, the use of nipple clamps, possibly with weights attached, can be used to stimulate the subject with pain.

The strappado bondage is most commonly used with the victim's feet on the ground. Very rarely will someone use technique with their feet off the ground, because of the pain that follows it.

Uses of this positionEdit

This type of BDSM play, due to the difficulty of maintaining this position, does not allow for long periods of being bound. Its major use is for sexual play with the bound subject. While bound like this, the subject is open to the use of various tools such as floggers, whips, etc, as well as general spanking. This position can also be used for sexual intercourse, or the use of vibrators and/or dildos to stimulate the bound person.

Visual appealEdit

In strappado bondage, those who enjoy the aesthetics of BDSM cite particular appeal in the emphasised buttocks, as well as the breasts appearing enlarged as a result of them hanging from the chest with the subject bending forwards.

Precautions and safetyEdit

This bondage position is also used as a form of torture, therefore measures are usually taken to ensure that the subject bound in this position is not pushed beyond their physical capabilities. Any position that moves limbs into an extreme position and holds them there for an extended period of time can result in damage - sometimes permanent - to even the most flexible of people.


The Visual Dictionary of Sex, Dr. Eric J Trimmer (editor), ISBN 0-89479-011-0; A & W Publishers, 1977

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