Impact play

From RACKWiki
Impact play
Health risk Moderate
Legal risk

Impact play is a subset of sensation play, or Pain play, characterized by (repeated) striking of a person for the gratification of one or both parties.[1] While issues with impact play are rarely fatal, severe and sometimes permanent injury can occur.


Impact is one of the most common forms of BDSM play, however, depending on intensity, it may also be considered edge play.


For some practitioners, the appeal is sadistic/masochistic in nature. Impact play can cause the release of endorphins, from pain and/or connectivity created between impact top and submissive. Many also enjoy the marks impact can leave.

Some submissives may use impact as harm-reductive self-injury. Ideally, submissives should inform their dominant that this is occurring. In harm-reductive self-injury, submissives may achieve the release they need through impact play. Dominants can support their submissives by understanding the needs of their submissive and avoiding shaming language or behavior.


There are many ways to do impact play but here is a traditional impact play scene split into different phases:

  • Warm up: This is to slowly get the sub to get used to the pain of the scene. It also serves to get the blood flowing in the body area that is targeted as well as the initial wave of endorphins produced by the sub. This is usually done with a softer/wider implement to distribute the pain to a larger area.
  • Ramp up: Slowly ramping up the intensity of the scene and start pushing the sub to handle more pain. As the intesity rises and the body gets used to what is happened, the sub will be able to handle a bit more pain.
  • Check-ins: Pauses are build into the scene so that the sub can enjoy the endorphine rush and a connection can be made between the participants. This can be quite sensual.
  • Climax: Usually a sub is brought to a pain climax which ends the scene.
  • Aftercare: The scene has ended but the sub is still experiencing the after effects due to the endorphine rush.


Some of the methods and implements used in impact play:

  • Hand: Spanking or slapping with the hand is one of the most basic forms of impact play.
  • Paddle: Paddles come in various materials such as leather, wood, or metal. They can deliver a sharp sting or a thuddy sensation depending on the material and design.
  • Flogger: Floggers consist of multiple tails attached to a handle and can be made from leather, suede, rubber, or other materials. They provide a wide range of sensations, from gentle caresses to intense impacts.
  • Whip: Whips are typically made of leather and have a single tail. They can deliver sharp, stinging sensations.
  • Crop: Crops are short, stiff implements usually made of leather or rubber with a small slapper at the end. They can provide sharp, targeted sensations.
  • Canes: Canes are rigid implements typically made of bamboo, rattan, or fiberglass. They deliver intense, focused sensations and are known for leaving distinct welts.


While most injuries from impact play are superficial, such as bruising and minor lacerations, some can be more serious, such as joint injury, organ injury, and infection.

Thorough negation before the impact scene is imperative.

Joint injury

Avoid striking joints and spine. Aim instead for fleshy areas such as buttocks, thighs, and shoulders. *(add photo of color code that indicates kidney)

Organ injury

Avoid striking or trampling the stomach. Impact recipient should engage their abdominal muscles when being struck in front to protect their organs. Never strike over the kidneys or low back. Kidney damage may cause hematuria (blood in the urine)[2] or anuria (inability to urinate)[3] which can result in death.


The impact top should thoroughly wash their hands before a scene, and nitrile gloves are recommended. Implements should be cleaned between uses. This includes furniture the recipient may be touching, and tools used before and after the scene. Lack of cleanliness can result not only in skin infections, but can also lead to the transfer of diseases such as hepatitis. If you plan on breaking skin during the scene, sanitize the intended areas beforehand. If skin becomes broken, sanitize after and ensure the recipient does not sit on surfaces others have, or will, touch. Puppy pads or soft pants are a good way to prevent cross contamination while still keeping the recipient comfortable after the scene.


One of the possible outcomes of impact play is bruising and this should be negotiated to what extent and where it is permissible.


Wrapping describes the ends of a whip or flogger striking past the intended point of contact causing the tips of the implement to “wrap” around a curved part if the body. When this occurs, the momentum of the implement causes it to accelerate due to the reduced radius of motion. This can result in the end of the implement striking harder than intended.

Areas where wrapping is likely to occur when engaging in flogging on the back of the sub include over the top of shoulders, around ribs or hips, and around to the front of legs.

Whether wrapping is desired should be included in pre-scene negotiation.

Wrapping often occurs when the dom stands closer to the sub with the intention to provide “thuddy” stimulation. The sensation of a wrap is very “stingy”.

If wrapping accidentally occurs during a scene where it was not negotiated, a check-in may be prudent to reassure the sub that the dom is being attentive and that the wrap was unintentional.

Fainting or lightheadedness

Due to pain, prolonged standing, intensity of the scene or any other triggers, a sub may be lightheaded or be at risk of fainting due to a vasovagal syncope or blood pressure drop[4].

Risk mitigation

Know the body

Impact should be done on primarily fatty and/or muscular areas[5] of the body. === Know your tools === Take classes, watch others, practice on pillows. It will increase your accuracy and your confidence. Make sure you can use scourge-style tools without wrapping (ends of implement striking beyond the intended impact point). Be precise with all materials.

Be prepared

  • Ensure your tools (including footwear if trampling) are clean and well-maintained.
  • Be aware of your own ability to focus and observe, and knowledgeable about subspace and the body's reaction to pain.
  • Do a few practice swings without hitting the sub to get the feeling of the implement and give you something to focus on.
  • Consumption of drugs or alcohol by either participant dramatically increases the risk of accidents or injury.

Negotiate thoughtfully

Be thorough in your negotiation. Preexisting injuries, illnesses, and current medications may interfere with the impact recipient’s ability to clot, heal, breathe, gauge pain, or maintain consciousness under systemic stress. Be sure to ask about any health related concerns.


Ensure that the sub is eduquately supported after an impact play scene, mentally and physically. It may take a while for the pain rush to subside and for the sub to be back at functioning capacity.

Known incidents

See also


  4. "Why do people faint?". Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved 2024-02-16.