Working with Your Body

Guest post by Cozima

Cozima self-suspending. Photo by lochnessia

Cozima self-suspending. Photo by lochnessia


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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.)
  3. Not tying my arms into anything, to avoid further damage to my ulnar nerve.
  4. 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! :)