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Use of spread eagle during sky diving
Jeffrey Buttle does an inside spread eagle at the 2004 Four Continents Championships in Hamilton

The spreadeagle (also spelled spread eagle or spread-eagle) is the position in which a person has their arms outstretched and legs apart, figuratively resembling an eagle with wings spread. It is a style that appears commonly in nature and geometry. In human style it is represented by the letter "X".

The spreadeagle position is frequently seen in various fields of human activity, particularly sports. It is commonly used in Olympic weightlifting, cheerleading, freestyle skiing, gymnastics, basketball, swimming and dance such as contemporary ballet. The spread eagle in figure skating is one of the moves in the field which makes the sport particularly associated with the position. It is also practiced in sky diving and appears in rock climbing and freestyle motocross.[1]

Sex position

The spreadeagle is also used as a sex position in which one partner lies on their back facing up (supine) with arms and legs spread wide apart. It is a variant of the missionary position that allows for deep sexual penetration.[2] This position is also popular for oral sex[3] and manual stimulation[4] such as erotic massage.

The reverse spreadeagle position[4] is a less common version in which the lower partner lies facing down (prone). It is a variant of the doggy style position.[5] Another variation is for the receiving partner's legs to be closed, and the penetrating partner's to be wide apart. This variation is said to be better for stimulating the G-spot and the prostate gland and is sometimes called the peace sign position.

The standing spreadeagle position adapts it to a vertical position. Typically the partner whose legs are spread is either pinned against a wall or stands on one leg and spreads the other. A variant exists that is easier for partners of different heights: one partner rests on the edge of a counter or bed with their legs spread while the other stands and penetrates them. Another vertical adaptation making use of furniture is the sofa spreadeagle: one partner stands on the edge of a bed or sofa or balances on two chairs and squats to allow for standing penetration.[4]

These positions are classic ingredients in sexual roleplay.


A woman spreadeagle on an X-cross.
A woman spreadeagle on an X-cross.

The spread eagle position is also employed as a bondage position in BDSM play, with the submissive fastened to a bed or a specially constructed table,[6] sometimes face down.[5] Alternatively spreader bars can be used to keep the wearer's legs or arms a set distance apart[7] and produce a spread eagle position.[8] An X-cross, a stationary bondage frame in the shape of an X which is often found in BDSM dungeons, is designed to position and restrain a submissive in a spreadeagle position.[9] X-crosses are typically vertical if wall-mounted or lean back at a slight angle if freestanding,[10] and hence they restrain the subject in a standing spread eagle position.[11] A standing or hanging position can also be achieved with spreader bars or using ropes or chains attached to different endpoints.

Unrestrained submissives are sometimes commanded to assume a spreadeagle position[12] due to its extreme vulnerability, and they may be forced to adopt and maintain the position for the purposes of erotic humiliation.[13] To increase the effect the subject is often required to display their genitals. This also provides unhindered access to the crotch, groin and sometimes anal region for sexual play and torture, such as cock and ball torture or pussy torture.

Military punishment

During the American Civil War, soldiers convicted of theft, sleeping on duty, or cowardice could be punished by being tied spreadeagled to a large wooden wheel for five to six hours.[14]

See also


  1. ^ Pelkey, Jamin (2018). The Semiotics of X: Chiasmus, Cognition, and Extreme Body Memory. Bloomsbury. pp. 42–43. ISBN 9781350082229.
  2. ^ Dellner, Alexia (3 September 2021). "Why the Spread Eagle Is the Latest Sex Position You Need to Try". Women's Health Magazine.
  3. ^ Hamilton, Jill (10 December 2021). "17 Rope Bondage Sex Positions That'll Have You Begging for More". Cosmopolitan.
  4. ^ a b c "What Is the Eagle Sex Position?". WebMD. 28 June 2021.
  5. ^ a b "Spread Eagle Bondage Position". Kinkly. 20 March 2022.
  6. ^ Arndt, William B. (1991). Gender Disorders and the Paraphilias. International Universities Press. p. 326. ISBN 9780823621507.
  7. ^ Kravitz, Jamie (9 February 2018). "4 BDSM Sex Moves to try with your Christian Grey if you love 'Fifty Shades'". Elite Daily.
  8. ^ Zadig, Alicia (2021). Yes, Mistress: Why Men Crave Female Domination. Savio Republic. p. 213. ISBN 9781642937916.
  9. ^ Alani, Lux (2015). The Little Vanilla Book: S&M Wisdom to Improve Your Everyday Life. Simon and Schuster. p. 117. ISBN 9781582705712.
  10. ^ "St. Andrew's Cross: A dungeon staple". Hump Stump. 7 November 2019. Retrieved 19 July 2022.
  11. ^ "Saint Andrew's Cross". Kinkly. 9 January 2018.
  12. ^ Stokes, Rebecca Jane (23 June 2021). "How To Be A Dominatrix That Men Crave Being With". Your Tango.
  13. ^ Pelkey (2018), pp. 48–49.
  14. ^ Burton, Tahlia Y. (10 August 2016). "10 Brutal Punishments That Used To Be Legal In The Military". Task & Purpose.