Equalization techniques in freediving

Equalization techniques in freediving: master the essential methods

Pressure adaptation is a key element of freediving. During breath-hold diving, freedivers experience significant increase in water pressure, which affects the whole body, especially air cavities. This requires proper pressure equalization to avoid pain and injury. There are several equalization techniques, among which the most popular are the Valsalva maneuver and Frenzel technique, as well as the Mouthfill method.

Pressure equalization: Valsalva or Frenzel?

At the initial stages of the dive, equalizing pressure in the ears is of utmost importance. The Valsalva maneuver is the most well-known and simple technique, where the freediver closes the nose and tries to exhale through the nose, thereby increasing pressure in the nasopharynx and equalizing pressure in the middle ear. In this case, pressure is created using the abdominal muscles. This method of pressure equalization is ineffective at depths greater than 10 meters and causes unnecessary tension underwater.

The Frenzel technique is considered a more advanced method and gentler on the ears. This method involves using the larynx, tongue, and throat muscles to create pressure in the nasopharynx. The freediver pinches the nose, raises part of the tongue, and gently "pushes" air into the ears using the air in the oral cavity, which allows more efficient and safe pressure equalization. These pressure equalization techniques are discussed in detail in our Aida 2 freediving course.

Mouthfill technique or going deeper

The mouthfill method is an enhanced variation of the Frenzel technique specifically adapted for deep water freediving. The key point of this technique is using air that the freediver collects in advance in the oral cavity at a shallower depth, where pressure still allows doing this with minimal effort. This air is "locked" in the oral cavity, creating a reserve for subsequent equalization at greater depth when lung compression restricts access to air.

To perform the mouthfill method, the freediver must have a well-developed ability to control the muscles of the larynx and mouth, as they use the tongue as a piston to push air into the Eustachian tubes. This action creates the necessary pressure to equalize the external water pressure on the eardrums.

Studying and practicing the mouthfill method requires patience and time, as it involves not only mechanical actions, but also developing sensitivity to pressure changes in the ears and the ability to precisely control pressure in the oral cavity.

The effectiveness of the method directly depends on the freediver's ability to properly inhale, "lock", and maintain air in the oral cavity without inadvertent leakage into the esophagus (swallowing) during descent.

Thus, the mouthfill is a highly effective tool for deep dives, which, however, is only available to experienced divers who have undergone appropriate training.

Equalizing pressure in the mask space

Not only the ears need pressure equalization. The mask space can also cause discomfort when diving due to increased external pressure. To equalize the pressure in the mask space, the freediver should release a little air from the nose into the mask to equalize the pressure inside the mask with the water pressure.

The importance of gradual adaptation

The body takes time to adapt to pressure not only in terms of equalization in the ears and mask space. The gradual increase in depth is important for safety and health. A rapid increase in diving depth can lead to serious problems such as barotrauma. We wrote about this in our previous article "Ear pain after freediving: main causes".

Freedivers are advised to gradually increase diving depth, allowing the body time to adapt to new conditions. This requires paying attention to and training the respiratory system, improving lung and larynx flexibility, as well as developing muscle memory for proper execution of pressure equalization techniques.

Practices for improving pressure adaptation

Freedivers can use various practices to improve their ability to adapt to pressure:

  • Breathing exercises: Regular breathing exercises help increase lung volume and improve breathing control. This is important to maintain sufficient air pressure for equalization at depth.
  • Training the muscles of the larynx and tongue: Strengthening the muscles of the larynx and tongue helps effectively use the Frenzel technique and mouthfill.
  • Gradual depth increase: Freedivers should slowly increase diving depth, allowing the body to adapt and minimize risks.
  • Use of relaxation techniques: Relaxation plays an important role in freediving, as muscle tension can interfere with proper pressure equalization.
  • Constant practice: Regular practice of dives improves technique and helps the body get used to pressure changes.

Conclusion

Freediving combines physical endurance and psychological stability, requiring practitioners to have deep self-control and attention to their own sensations. Adaptation to depth and adequate pressure equalization are fundamental skills that ensure safety during dives and help avoid dangerous conditions such as barotrauma. Valsalva and Frenzel techniques, as well as the mouthfill method, are tools for managing pressure in the ears and paranasal sinuses, which is critical when changing depth.

The gradual increase in diving depth, taking into account individual characteristics and limits, allows freedivers not only to explore the underwater world, but also to constantly improve their skills. In addition, an important aspect is the development of the ability to relax underwater, which saves oxygen and improves the dive.

Regular training, meditation and breathing exercises help improve concentration and psycho-emotional preparation, which undoubtedly helps freedivers achieve impressive results, revealing new horizons in understanding their capabilities and limitations. However, in order for the practice to be not only effective, but also safe, especially when it comes to pressure equalization methods, it is necessary to be trained under the guidance of a professional instructor.

Our Apnetica Freediving school offers comprehensive freediving training programs and educational courses for both novice and experienced freediving practitioners, conducted under the guidance of a certified instructor. We focus on an individual approach and the safety of each student, thereby providing the best conditions for studying pressure equalization techniques and further developing freediving skills. Join our courses to improve your skills and safely explore the underwater world.

24.12.2023
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