Pleasure and Pain: Exploring Impact Play

Pleasure and Pain: Exploring Impact Play

Impact play is a much loved but sometimes misunderstood form of kink play. Like many other kinky or vanilla sexual acts, impact play is aimed at evoking a sensation, in this case, pain. Some people struggle with the concept of pain being gratifying, enjoyable and erotic but there are many people who experience pain as being pleasurable in the context of consensual impact play. There are physiological reasons why this occurs; experiencing pain causes the nervous system to release hormones such as endorphins and dopamine which can give you a natural, almost euphoric high.

There are other reasons why people choose to engage in impact play. Like bondage and other BDSM activities, impact play can involve elements of power exchange, erotic punishment and even humiliation which some people find incredibly enjoyable. Whatever your reason for trying impact play, there are some important things to consider before you start.

Safe, Sane and Consensual

It’s important to note that while they might be curious about it, some people feel ethically conflicted about impact play. This is understandable because for most of us, we are told from a young age that it’s never OK to hit or hurt another person. Like other types of BDSM play, impact play is distinguished from abuse by one important factor: consent. When performed without adequate communication, care and consent, kinky play can result in serious and actual physical and/or emotional harm. In the case of impact play, the aim is to induce the sensation of pain, not cause lasting harm or physical damage.

That is why experienced BDSM practitioners and educators place so much emphasis on the concept of SSC kink: Safe, Sane and Consensual.

In BDSM, the first step for ensuring safe, sane and consensual play is to ensure that you have ongoing, informed and enthusiastic consent before, during and after play. Before you start, it’s important that you have a conversation with your partner not just about what you want to try but what you’re not comfortable with doing. These boundaries are known as your limits and it’s essential that you have a mutual understanding and respect for each other’s limits before you play.

In the case of impact play, it’s essential to discuss and negotiate with your partner what implements and toys may be used during play, where on the body they can be used, the intensity levels of the play as well as whether or not it’s acceptable for marks to be left on the skin.

It’s also essential for safe play that you establish some safe words that can be used to check in with one another quickly and easily during play. A lot of kinksters use the traffic light system; green means all is good and play can continue, yellow means you need to slow down and check in with each other and red means something’s not right and play needs to stop immediately. If you plan on using gags or any other toys that may make it difficult to speak, it’s important to establish a nonverbal way of checking in, such as shaking your head or tapping your thigh three times.

Safe play requires you and your play partner to be aware and present. If you’re affected by drugs or alcohol or feeling particularly tired or distracted, you should choose to delay your play as your ability to give consent and play safely will be adversely affected.

After you’ve finished your scene, you need to consider engaging in some aftercare. Kink play can be fun, intense and exhilarating but it is often also physically, emotionally and mentally draining and challenging. Aftercare is essentially taking some time to be together, cuddle, share how you’re feeling and reflect on what you both liked and what you might do differently next time.

Location, location, location

As we mentioned earlier, impact play is aimed at inducing pain, not inflicting harm. In order to safely engage in impact play, you need to have a basic understanding about the areas of the body that are safe for impact play as well as the areas that require caution and the areas that are off limits. Generally speaking, areas that are meatier and covered by fat and muscle are safer than areas where organs, joints and bones are less protected. Buttocks and upper thighs are a common safe choice for impact play while areas that need to be avoided include the head, neck, calves and abdominal area. Deviance and Desire have a really useful chart for gauging the safety of impact play on different areas of the body. Aside from the safety aspect, it’s important to note that different areas of the body are more sensitive than others, such as the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.

Thuddy to Stingy

When it comes to describing pain in our day to day life, we often use words like sharp, stabbing and aching. When it comes to impact play, kinksters have their own way of describing a toy by the kind of pain and impact the make: thuddy, stingy or somewhere in between.

On the thuddy end of the scale, you’ll find wider toys that have a larger surface area which create a firmer, often duller kind of sensation as well as a satisfying thudding sound. The rigidity and weight of the toy also has an effect on the sensation; flexible and heavier toys are often more thuddy than stiffer, lighter toys. Examples of thuddy toys include large paddles and heavy floggers with wide tails.

On the stingy end of the scale, you’ll find toys that create a sharp stinging sensation. These toys are often narrow and inflexible, such as a cane, whips and cat o’nine tails. Stingy toys aren’t for the faint of heart as they offer the strongest and most intensely painful sensation

In the middle you will find toys such as crops, thinner tailed floggers and smaller paddles that may still sting but the sensation will be spread over a greater area and feel less intense than a stingy toy.

Selecting a toy

Along with the style of the toy, the material, construction and size of the toy will affect the type and intensity of sensation it gives. Finding the right impact toys for you may involve some experimentation and trial and error. Being able to accurately gauge at first glance the kind of sensation a toy also comes with experience. Here at Get On Top we’re always happy to help you select the best toy to get you started. Here’s a few things we recommend that you consider when choosing and using an impact toy:

Preference of sensation: Most people prefer a particular style of toy or sensation and if you’re searching for a toy that you want to use on your partner, it’s a good idea to have a conversation with them first to see what style of sensation they might prefer. Paddles and crops are great options for beginners as they’re easy to manoeuvre and to control the speed and intensity of impact. Short to medium length floggers with wide, soft tails are also fantastic and versatile options as you can use them for light or intense flogging or simply drag the tails slowly over the skin for a gentle, relaxing sensation.

Pain tolerance: A person’s pain tolerance often evolves and fluctuates over time and with experience. Their pain tolerance may increase or decrease during a play session which is another reason why checking in as you go is important. It’s also worth noting that you can strike someone with different toys with the same speed and strength and get very different reactions; a lot of people have a good pain tolerance for thuddy toys when used at a high level of intensity but they may struggle with stingy type toys used at a light or moderate level.

Marks: There is a possibility that impact play will leave you with visible marks for a period of time ranging from hours to weeks, depending on the style, location, length of play and intensity. It’s also important to note that people vary greatly in how easily they are bruised or marked by toys. Some people can bruise from a light touch and some people won’t bruise at all from a long and hard impact session. If you’re not sure how easily you mark and are concerned about visible marks, it’s best to stick to areas that are easily concealed, especially when using a new toy for the first time. Strong impacts from thuddy toys are more likely to create bruises or at least flat patches of redness while stingy toys are more likely to leave raised welts.

Play space: On a practical level, the size and layout of your play space will affect what toys you can use. If you’re planning on playing in a small room, you may not have room to effectively swing a large flogger or whip. Also, if you’re concerned about noise levels, toys such as belts and slappers can make a lot of noise.

Experience level: Some toys are simple to use for beginners but other toys require practice to refine your technique and use them safely and efficiently. In the case of whips and longer floggers, it’s worthwhile taking some time to watch some instructional videos or kinky porn to get a better idea of how to swing and manoeuvre the toy effectively. Practicing before play by flogging or whipping a pillow or even yourself somewhere safe will help you to have better control over your aim and intensity level and give you a better idea of how intense a sensation the toy creates.

Click here to explore our range of impact play toys