Working with Your Body
Guest post by Cozima
Self-Suspending with Injuries: A Case Study
I have a relatively serious (but treatable) ulnar nerve injury from rope bottoming. It occurred from stretching my ulnar nerve in rope bondage, and is centered in my spine—the symptoms include tingling/numbness/pain in my hands and forearms, and I've had symptoms increase enormously during and after self suspension. I've found that a bad trigger for (temporarily) worsening my injury is using my hands/forearms to pull myself up. I've also found that while tying is easy, untying is very difficult, particularly when I'm fatigued—something about the act of pulling a knot apart is too difficult for my hands after I've been tying for a while.
I've done some things to mitigate this while I heal:
- Only doing self suspensions that I 'fall into' the main upline, and only pull on secondary uplines that don't have a lot of weight on them. For example, I might attach a chest harness and futo to a hard point while standing, and use my hands and arms to pull up a secondary upline attached to my ankle. This means that I'm not pulling a large amount of body weight with my arms, and to get out of the suspension, I just release the secondary upline(s) and stand up.
- Finishing self suspension scenes/practice earlier than I want to. I am learning to stop far before I'm tired, so that I have the energy to undo the knots. I also make sure to have a marlin spike or something on hand to help with stubborn knots, and a spotter who is aware I might need to ask for help undoing knots. (I intend to also start working more quick releases into my rope work so that things are easier to undo.)
- Not tying my arms into anything, to avoid further damage to my ulnar nerve.
- Learning more 'comfy' rope. This injury has seriously lowered my pain tolerance, and I'm discovering that I have more stamina if I have solid harnesses than if I'm attempting self suspension with a few single columns.
I hope that, as I heal, I will eventually be able to do more intense lifts, or lower myself to the ground, but for now I am doing this sort of rope! :)