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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 term spread eagle is used for sex positions where one of the partners adopts all or part of a spreadeagle position. One of the simplest versions has the lower partner lying on their back facing upwards (supine) with their arms and legs spread wide apart. It is a variant of the missionary position and it allows for deep sexual penetration.[2] This position is also used for manual stimulation[3] such as erotic massage of the G-spot[4] or clitoral stimulation using the fingers or a sex toy. Clitoral stimulation can be performed by either partner and can be combined with penetrative sex.[5] The position is also popular for oral sex[6] which can be combined with vaginal massage. It is a comfortable position for the receiving partner to maintain, though the person providing the stimulation may experience neck discomfort. This may make it difficult for them to remain in place long enough for the receiving partner to reach orgasm.[4]

There are a number of variations on the position. The reverse spreadeagle position[3] is a less common version in which the lower partner lies facing down (prone). It is a variant of the doggy style position.[7] If one leg is straight while the other is bent, the position is called the "broken eagle".[8]

The variant known as the eagle[9] or peace sign involves the lower partner lying on their back and holding their legs in the air spread wide apart[10] in a "V" shape, though the arms are not usually spread.[11] It is said to be better for stimulating the G-spot[10] due to the angle of penetration. This can be done using a penis or a G-spot vibrator.[9] The position is used for both vaginal and anal sex.[11] The piledriver sex position, which is similar except that the lower partner's bottom is raised into the air to bring their feet close to the ground, can also be modified into a spread eagle version if the lower partner spreads their legs.[12] This is sometimes called the soaring eagle.[13]

The standing eagle variation adapts the spreadeagle 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.[3]

The legs are also spread during the lesbian sexual practice known as scissoring.[14]

These positions are classic ingredients in sexual roleplay.


See also: Bondage positions and methods § Spread eagle

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,[15] sometimes face down.[7] The wrists and ankles are typically either fastened with ropes or with bondage cuffs attached to straps.[16] Alternatively spreader bars can be used to keep the wearer's legs or arms a set distance apart[17] and produce a spread eagle position[18] lying on the back or front.[19]

An X-cross, a stationary bondage frame in the shape of an X, is often found in BDSM dungeons. It is designed to position and restrain a submissive in a spreadeagle position,[20] restrained at the wrists, ankles and sometimes waist.[21] X-crosses are typically vertical if wall-mounted or lean back at a slight angle if freestanding,[22] and hence they restrain the subject in a standing spread eagle position.[23] Alternatively this can also be achieved using ropes or chains attached to different endpoints.[24]

A spreader bar suspended from the ceiling provides wrist attachment points for a vertical spread eagle position, either standing or hanging.[19] A hanging spread eagle position is also used in suspension bondage, for which wooden or steel bondage rigs are sometimes found in BDSM dungeons.[25] Spreader bars can also be used with subjects who are kneeling on all fours to give access to the buttocks, genitals and anal region.[26]

Bondage in a spread eagle position provides immobility combined with a feeling of helplessness. It typically leaves much of the body available for BDSM play.[24] This may include impact play, particularly if the subject is oriented with the back and buttocks exposed. Alternatively, if the front of the subject is exposed, erotic teasing may be undertaken[23] or erotic torture such as breast torture, cock and ball torture or pussy torture can be used.

Using the technique known an honor bondage,[27] unrestrained submissives are sometimes commanded to assume a spreadeagle position and not to move.[28] This produces extreme vulnerability and can be a source of erotic humiliation.[29] To increase the effect the subject is often required to display their genitals.

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.[30]

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. ^ a b c "What Is the Eagle Sex Position?". WebMD. 28 June 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Spread Eagle Sex Position". Love and Sex Answers. Retrieved 16 January 2023.
  5. ^ Zane, Zachary (14 April 2021). "Science Just Found the 4 Best Penetration Techniques for Female Pleasure". Men's Health.
  6. ^ Hamilton, Jill (10 December 2021). "17 Rope Bondage Sex Positions That'll Have You Begging for More". Cosmopolitan.
  7. ^ a b "Spread Eagle Bondage Position". Kinkly. 20 March 2022.
  8. ^ Walsh, Grace (9 October 2022). "What is the broken eagle sex position? Plus, benefits of this unique position". Woman and Home.
  9. ^ a b Malbon, Abigail; Bowen, Chloe (1 September 2022). "Everything You Need To Know About The Eagle Sex Position". Cosmopolitan.
  10. ^ a b Dorking, Marie Claire (7 June 2019). "'The Eagle' and other Love Island inspired sex positions to try out". Yahoo Life UK.
  11. ^ a b Engle, Gigi (19 March 2021). "The Spread Eagle Sex Position Is Great for Going Deep. Here's How to Do It". Men's Health.
  12. ^ Wicker, Alden (10 March 2020). "The Best Sex Positions When Your Partner Isn't Necessarily Endowed". Refinery 29.
  13. ^ Lee, Martha Tara (2013). Love, Sex and Everything in Between. Marshall Cavendish International Asia Pte Ltd. p. 96. ISBN 9789814516785.
  14. ^ Ishak, Raven (23 September 2021). "6 Lesbian Sex Positions That Will Maximize Your Pleasure". Hello Giggles.
  15. ^ Arndt, William B. (1991). Gender Disorders and the Paraphilias. International Universities Press. p. 326. ISBN 9780823621507.
  16. ^ Zane, Zachary (9 March 2021). "13 Rope Bondage Sex Positions for People Who Like BDSM". Men's Health.
  17. ^ Kravitz, Jamie (9 February 2018). "4 BDSM Sex Moves to try with your Christian Grey if you love 'Fifty Shades'". Elite Daily.
  18. ^ Zadig, Alicia (2021). Yes, Mistress: Why Men Crave Female Domination. Savio Republic. p. 213. ISBN 9781642937916.
  19. ^ a b Mistress Kay (2 June 2021). "8 Hot Sex Positions That Are Better With a Spreader Bar". Kinkly.
  20. ^ Alani, Lux (2015). The Little Vanilla Book: S&M Wisdom to Improve Your Everyday Life. Simon and Schuster. p. 117. ISBN 9781582705712.
  21. ^ Kaplan, Michael (1 August 2021). "George Soros' right-hand man accused of BDSM crimes in his sex dungeon". Australia.
  22. ^ "St. Andrew's Cross: A dungeon staple". Hump Stump. 7 November 2019. Retrieved 19 July 2022.
  23. ^ a b "Saint Andrew's Cross". Kinkly. 9 January 2018.
  24. ^ a b Jake (7 November 2011). "Bondage Position: Spreadeagle". Leather Cuffs and Silken Bonds. Archived from the original on 1 September 2019.
  25. ^ Zadig (2021), p. 34.
  26. ^ Hamilton, Jill (11 October 2022). "18 Bondage Sex Positions That'll Have You Begging for More". Cosmopolitan.
  27. ^ Lords, Kayla (30 November 2015). "Bondage: It's More Than Just Rope". Kinkly.
  28. ^ Stokes, Rebecca Jane (23 June 2021). "How To Be A Dominatrix That Men Crave Being With". Your Tango.
  29. ^ Pelkey (2018), pp. 48–49.
  30. ^ Burton, Tahlia Y. (10 August 2016). "10 Brutal Punishments That Used To Be Legal In The Military". Task & Purpose.