What are “Arm Binders”?
Arm binders are a specific kind of device in BDSM used to restrain subs in bondage play. They are carefully designed to fasten or hold both arms and keep them in place behind the wearer’s back. Of the numerous variations, the most popular types of binders are usually made from simple leather, metal, or rope cuffs.
Etymology & Historical Use of Arm Binders
The term arm binders (also spelled armbinders) originates from the words arm and binder. Arm is derived from the Old English earm; binder is derived from the Old English bindere, “one who binds”. It’s been said that John Willie (1902-1962), a fetish illustrator and photographer and also the alter ego of John Alexander Scott Coutts, invented arm binders. Willie’s illustrations often feature his subjects forced in strappado bondage with their arms interwoven in arm binders. Strappado bondage was originally practiced in the Medieval era as a form of torture.
By placing the subject’s arms and hands behind the back, they become vulnerable, making it easier for authorities to escort them and control their behavior. Arm binding using the strappado bondage method brings forth immense pain, often leading to suffocation and permanent damage.
Despite the severity of the possible side effects, the idea of taking full control of one person while they are being held back is a highly appealing and thrilling scene for BDSM lovers. The practice empowers doms, while subs gain erotic pleasure from being limited and bound tightly at their dom’s mercy.
What to Do & Not Do When Using Arm Binders
After arm binding was adapted into bondage play, law enforcement and psychiatric role-playing have become favorites among the doms and subs. Arm binders have a distinct aesthetic that adds to its unique charm: a single glove sheath, for instance, is commonly made of leather or latex with zippers and laces. Although it also comes with straps situated around the elbows and wrists, it still requires a harness to prevent it from slipping off the arms of the wearer. Monogloves, on the other hand, are more akin to John Willie’s illustrations. The design is more form-fitting. Monogloves are mostly made of leather.
Some arm binders have a series of cuffs and straps and can be made of a combination of leather and metal. The cuffs can be linked together to form something akin to a web, often being attached to other straps and rods. This enables the arms to be held down.
Due to the safety and health risks posed by the use of arm binders, immense precaution is required. Particularly, the shoulder joints and blood circulation can be affected when the binders are worn for an extended period of time. First-timers can start small and use scarves. It is advised that arm binders be used only when the wearer is flexible and strong enough to be able to wear and endure it for a long time.
Related Practices & Fetishes
Strappado bondage was performed as a form of public torture or punishment. The idea was adapted into bondage play. In BDSM, a sub’s arms are bound behind their back using either a chain or rope. The chain or rope is attached to a suspension that hangs above the wearer. The setup is arranged to make the wearer bend forward. Strappado bondage is usually paired with spanking, flogging, and whipping. Some couples are able to perform sexual intercourse even while one of them is bound using this method.
Various forms of cuffs are used as arm binders. These range from from soft padded leather straps for beginners to metal shackles, and even artfully tied rope binders. Additionally, a spreader bar can be included to force or limit additional movement.
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