Erotic restraint can be an essential part of kinky sex. After all, BDSM begins with bondage before it gets to discipline and sadomasochism (or Master/slave, depending on who you ask).

Unfortunately, far too many people - and this is especially true for people first dipping their toes into the bubbling jacuzzi that is BDSM - forget that bondage is also one of the highest risk activities that anyone can engage in.

Rope Can Be Very Risky, Especially for Beginners

Rope is far too often seen as the only option for restraining someone. Not to take anything away from aficionados, but when it comes to beginners, the last thing that anyone should be using is rope. Not only can it be extremely difficult to do right, but if done incorrectly, it can result in joint injury or even permanent nerve damage.

Sure, this is true of just about any other form of bondage. Yet with rope there’s an extra level of risk stemming from the number one thing to always keep in mind about bondage safety: never put anyone into anything that you can’t get them out of in less than a few seconds.

Time is critical to bondage safety. If someone being restrained experiences numbness, cramping, a panic attack, or simply wants to get out of it as soon as possible, the difference between a second and a minute can be the difference between relief and a trip to the emergency room.

This is especially true for rope, which can be tough to extract someone from - even for hardcore rope experts.

So what should beginners be using instead of rope? Well, that’s the purpose of this guide to alternative, and much safer, forms of bondage (yes, you may applaud).

Bondage Emergency Kit

Before you do any form of bondage, with rope or anything else, you must have what I call the Bondage Emergency Kit (patent-pending).

The first item is a pair of emergency scissors. These are also called EMT or trauma scissors. These allow you to cut someone out of most materials without cutting the person. While a cheap set will do in a pinch, it’s really worth investing in a stronger pair, especially if you decide to play with rope in the future.

Don’t bury these in your playbag. Instead, have then at the ready at all times. You should also practice using them. You must be good enough to use them to cut anything with them in a fraction of a second.

Again, time counts. If there is any, and I mean any, sign of distress or even discomfort, put these scissors to work. After all, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially when sorry can mean serious injury.

Another key piece of gear are panic snaps. These are special metal snaps that release in the blink-of-an-eye. What’s even better is that you don’t have to lift or move anyone to use them. Just slide up the sheath (marked with a convenient arrow) and they let immediately go. This way you can get someone out of a bondage situation faster than even with emergency scissors. I recommend one at every point of the bondage scene - connected between your person being restrained and a good, fixed hardpoint.

Beyond the emergency scissors and the panic snaps, water is a good idea to prevent dehydration, but too much will result in needing to pee in the middle of the bondage session. That can make things really uncomfortable. Any critical medications, such as those for allergies are also important to have on hand.

Last, but not least, is a phone: one that can be reached by everyone involved. Not to sound like a broken record, but time is critical in a bondage emergency, so you should never hesitate to call for assistance. Yeah, you might be a little embarrassed, but red in your cheeks is nothing compared to the potential for permanent damage.

Alternatives to Rope

OK, so you have your bondage emergency kit, you and your partner have talked about any special medical issues, you’ve prepared a good and well-lit space … it’s time for bondage: alternative bondage (cue the James Bond music).

Vet Wrap

One of the best forms of not-rope bondage is, of course, vet wrap. We've talked about it here on Kinkly before. To briefly repeat myself, vet wrap (also called self-adhering bandages) can be comfortably wrapped around a person's wrists and ankles and then tied off (after first being connected to a panic snap) to a fixed point. What makes vet wrap so nice is that, unlike rope, it doesn’t cut into a bottom’s joints. The tension is being spread out over much larger area.

Plastic Wrap

Any fans of Mel Brooks' and Carl Reiner’s 2000 Year Old Man comedy shtick? No? In that bit Mel is, you guessed it, 2000 years old. When asked by Reiner, playing a reporter, what the single greatest invention in the history of mankind is Mel replies “Plastic wrap!”

Not to take away from a pair of comedy legends, but what they say in jest is what I say for bondage: plastic wrap is simply great for restraining someone!

Here’s how it works. Get your partner or bottom, naked is best, to stand at the foot of a relatively high bed. Futons are NOT recommended … and you’ll understand why soon. Take your plastic wrap and begin to wrap them. I’ve found it best to start high on the body, around the chest and slowly work down: this way they will still have the use of their legs for balance.

After working your way down, you can then CAREFULLY lower your subject onto the bed, being sure not to drop them or allow their head to smack into anything.

It’s extremely important not to cover the person’s face and not go around too many times with the wrap: three or so is fine as this will have some stretch and not seriously restrict their breathing.

As for what kind of plastic wrap, I suggest the non-cooking variety - like ones designed to preserve food in the fridge. The thing about the kind for cooking is that they are designed to keep moisture as well as heat inside which can lead to one of the biggest drawbacks to plastic wrap and bondage: overheating.

Because of this, you always should keep a close eye on your mummy for any signs of getting too warm. If you or your mummy have never done this before, I recommend only leaving them in it for no longer than five or so minutes … at least to start. This all depends on the heat in the room or other factors.

One of the best things about plastic wrap, aside from being inexpensive, easy to get someone into, and having a comfy bondage experience, is that it it so easy to get out of. Just take your emergency shears and zzziiiipppp them out of it. With a little practice you can usually do this in only a few seconds.

Latex Tape

Not to be confused with duct tape, which should only be used over something like plastic wrap, latex tape can be another great alternative bondage tool. Like with vet wrap it often will stick to itself and, if it is wide enough, it can be used without putting too much pressure on the joints.

It can also be quickly removed with your trusty emergency scissors. The only real drawback to latex tape is its cost, especially compared to plastic wrap and wet wrap. However, it does look really sexy and comes in a whole range of glossy colors.

Use Your Imagination

One of the best things about BDSM, aside from the wild sex part, is that it can be a fertile ground for your kinky imagination. This is especially true about bondage … as long as you always keep safety your most important consideration.

For example, let’s think about really alternative forms of bondage. First up is how to have an intense bondage scene with nothing but a plastic cup and some water.

Back to the “have you seen” game. Oddly, this is the second reference to Stephen King in this article. In the movie version of King’s book, "Thinner,"there is a scene where a woman is forced to lay on the ground while another character balances a glass of what he says is acid on her forehead.

See where this might be going? Well, while you should never use acid (obviously), why not “restrain” your bottom in a similar way? You could even use little cups placed all over their body: the game being that they will be punished for every drop that spills.You could even up the ante by making them masturbate or receive a caning or flogging. Ah, the imagination soars…

Don’t want to use water? Then how about putting little bells all over your partner's body...with the promise of delicious punishment if any of then should ring.

Moving Without Moving

Finally we have a form of bondage that is both completely safe as well as having the potential to be extremely intense.

I’ll set the stage for you. Your partner or submissive is lying on a bed (though sitting in a chair or standing works as well) and you tell them, in your best growl, that this method of restraint will test the limits of their endurance and self-control.

Then comes the all important part. “Don’t move,” you say.

Sometimes called honor bondage, this elegant game can be a challenge to even the most experienced of submissives. If it isn’t, you can up the ante by doing things like throwing ping-pong balls at them, or spraying them with ice water, or even (very carefully) using hot wax.

The sky is just about the limit. Don’t forget to negotiate every aspect of it before you play. It might seem like a simple form of play, but until you talk with the person involved, you could be unintentionally causing a great deal of emotional discomfort. It’s true in life and even more so with BDSM: Never assume anything!

Tying Up Loose Ends

If I could leave you with anything, it would be to never forget that while bondage is common and arousing, it is also one of the highest risk activities. Because of this, safety should be constantly on your mind. If anything, and I mean anything, happens, do not ever hesitate to get your partner out of what you’ve put them into. The key is don’t put anyone into bondage that you can’t get them out of in a few seconds.

Finally, I’d like to leave you with the thought that while rope might seem like the default for bondage and can look really pretty and sexy, it is not something that should be done without taking a lot of hands-on classes.

Lucky for you, there are alternative ways to enjoy bondage that are hot, fun, and - best of all - safe.