The EDGE Blog

Impact Play: Words of Caution and Wisdom

The spicy art of impact play – including spanking, caning, flogging, and so much more – presents its own set of risks.

Repeat after me: we’re all individuals with unique physical concerns and limitations. That means it’s impossible to put out a blanket statement about the dangers of BDSM play.

Whether you’re topping or bottoming, always be open and direct about your physical state. Communicate all medical conditions or other limitations with your partner.  Joint, back, and circulation issues should be taken into consideration when planning a scene.  Check in about your emotional state as well. It can have a profound effect on how your body reacts to BDSM activity.

Communication should be an ongoing process

A good example would be having the bottom (person receiving the impact) setting their own pain scale from 1-10. They do this at the beginning, and then give feedback on the level of intensity throughout the scene.  Everyone should also be comfortable calling for a break, or the play to end at any time, for any reason.

There’s also the question of what to do your impact play with. Various toys can greatly reduce possible problems while maximizing pleasure.  Consider light and wide implements, such as ping-pong-paddles. These type of tools can be used successfully while only resulting in superficial reddening of the skin.

In contrast, heavier and narrower implements, like hairbrushes, can sometimes produce deep bruises.  There are also toys out there designed for beginners, such as the furry variety that can reduce the strength of the impact.

Beginner-friendly tools

bdsm spreader bar and ankle cuffsPaddles are good to start with. Hands are too, but only if your digits can handle it.  Floggers are great but can be tricky to control (I recommend practising with a pillow.)

Canes can be on the extremely sting-ie (vs. thuddy) and welt-ie side of things. They’re also challenging to use. This is why it’s best to wait until you have a lot of impact play experience before trying them.

Have your cake and eat it too.

As you begin to see potential impact toys everywhere, you’ll probably find your collection of implements growing.  I commend this as evidence of your education and research!

The anatomy of a scene

Here’s a good formula for enjoying it all:

  1. Start with your friendliest toy/lightest touch, to get the receiver warmed up and flooded with endorphins.
  2. Move on to a middle of the road toy/medium touch, as your partner’s tolerance slowly increases.
  3. For the grand finale, lay into your meanest toy/heaviest touch while you ramp up the intensity to your bottom’s satisfaction.

I’m pretty sure you’ve caught onto this but I’d be remiss not to say: any toys you want to use with a partner need to be approved by them BEFORE the scene starts.

Also, try to move your impacts around and not just swat the same part of the body repeatedly.  To be clear, I’m not suggesting bouncing from one part of the body to the other but instead to steadily expand the area where you’re hitting.

Bottoms up!

Finally, getting to my suggestions on where you can do impact play: a familiar favourite is the posterior region.  Not only is it often well-upholstered, providing a nice cushion from fragile parts of the body, but it’s a classic.  I mean, seriously, spanking is a big thing when it comes to BDSM erotica.

That’s not to say that it’s perfect for everyone, as there are folks with medical conditions that could lead to complications.  Potential for trauma response is also something to take into consideration when negotiating play.  Risk is relative to the players and conditions involved.  While overall the derriere is considered a low-risk area for impact play, it is your responsibility to do the research and negotiate with informed consent.

Risk assessment

On the low-to-medium side of things are places like the shoulders, thighs, bottoms of feet and palms of hands.  Though not high risk, don’t think you can just attack these areas with a lot of impact energy. Instead, take a huge step back in intensity, which can also be reflected in your choice of implement.

High-risk areas include the face, the back, and the genitals.  If a partner requests impact on any of these areas, you will need to have some serious discussions about potential risks.  I would not recommend even considering going here with somebody unless you’ve played with them extensively in the past.

BDSM play is first and foremost about safety and consent.

Stay in constant communication with each other, understand the risks involved and not just the pleasure, and be prepared for the worst.  The line between a good BDSM session and harming your partner can be a very narrow one.


Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty

As I mentioned above, for those new to the delights of erotic impact play, I propose forgoing sophisticated toys until after you’ve familiarized yourself with the most traditional staple of kink: the human hand.

It’s practically impossible to seriously hurt someone by way of spanking, as the top’s hand usually gives out way before the bottom’s bottom does!  A spanking scene will give you plenty of practice as you learn to read your partner and experiment with different rhythms, intensities, music and moods.  Oh, and the magic of rabbit fur booty rubs.

Take it slow and easy: the goal here is not to hit especially hard but rather to keep up a steady rhythm – and you can’t do that if your hand quickly begins to smart.

If you have a condition like arthritis that makes doing spanking difficult, I suggest using something like a paddle.  Again, you’re not trying to smack that butt intensely but rather to get a good, regular beat going.

How to maximize pleasure

Many folks find that an upward-directed smack closer towards the cleft of the buttocks (rather than the sides of the cheeks) to be very pleasurable.  This is typically due to the reverberations stimulating nerve bundles that connect the areas of the anus to the genitals.  Check in with your partner, see what they like.  Bring the energy up to a climax, and end with something soothing, such as the aforementioned magical rabbit fur.

Domination and Submission: Words of Caution and Wisdom

Power exchange role play, aka Domination and submission or D/s, still has its share of possible hazards.  It’s even arguable that since power exchange can be emotionally, instead of physically injurious, it can hurt longer and much more deeply.

This is, again, why communication is so vital.  So before you do anything like roleplaying be sure and have a thorough conversation about language, dynamics, duration, and what safe words can and should be used to call things off.

D/s can take a huge number of different forms, so don’t feel you have to use what you erroneously may believe is the right way.  Dominants can certainly be demeaning, humiliating, and stern but ONLY if that’s what the submissive has agreed to.

Doms can also be nurturing, supportive, and even silly.  Again it all comes down to communication: Dominants and submissives should be speaking and listening before, during, and after the scene.

Role-play: how to get started

I suggest those new to all this get things rolling by trying out some simple roleplay scenarios like teacher and student, virgins experimenting together, spy and counterspy, or by each of you pretending to be characters from your favourite show or movie.

That’s what’s so great about role-playing: it can take any form you want it to!  As long as what’s happening is safe, sane, and consensual, the only limit is your imagination.

Always be learning

There’s a lot more I could get into but I hope these basic safety points help you understand how BDSM can be both risky and fun.  Those of us who might not move as well as we used to, or who have bodies that need to be treated gingerly will want to take extra precautions.  However, our life experience and hard-earned senses of humour can also unlock surprising new sources of pleasure and delight.

BDSM is all about educating yourself as much as you can.  Articles like this of course can help, but this is just a start. From here you should expand your education to studying resource guides, taking classes, attending events, and asking thoughtful questions of experienced kinksters.

The next biggest lesson is that of taking responsibility for yourself and those you play with, emotionally as well as physically.

So go forth with passion, arousal, and excitement into the fascinating world of kink. But, without fail, do so safely, sanely, and consensually.  Be as knowledgeable about potential risks and pleasures as you possibly can.

Zentai in orange suit pointing at the sky

Got kinky questions? Head to our BDSM hub and click “Ask Zentai.”

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