Freedive equalization

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Posted by Walt on November 24, 2005 at 22:33:28:

In Reply to: Equalizing your ear posted by Kio on November 24, 2005 at 12:59:50:

I equalize my ears starting above the surface and continue to depth (the greatest change in pressure is in the first 30 feet, so it gets easier as you descend). The trick is to get pressure building from the onset of the pressure changes so you avoid any forced 'clearing'. Just before the dive, after I take in my last deep breath, I 'force' air into my middle ear, pressurizing it a bit - about the pressue you'd experience as a plane takes off...very gentle.

As for technique, I jut my chin out and downward (if I'm a little congested, I'll wiggle my jaw slightly). This opens my eustachian tubes, then I sort of close my throat and 'swallow', which compresses air in my throat pressurizing my middle ears. Technically, its a variation of the Toynbee maneuver and, if applied throughout the descent, avoids any sudden pressure changes. Its considerably gentler than the Valsalva technique typically taught for scuba, making it preferable for the frequent descents of freediving. It may take a little practice, but once you master it you'll wonder why anyone would ever want to squeeze their nose and 'blow out'.

When I first started freediving (around age 10) I remember how my ears would hurt at just 7 to 10 feet. At some point I started 'swallowing air' which had the effect of pressurizing my eardrums and there would be no pain. (That was before masks had places to squeeze your nose, so I guess I was fortunate to learn upon this little trick.)

As for ear care, I'll cup my hand in a shower to rinse my ears and after I dry off, I'll flood each ear with a 50-50 mix of vinegar and alcohol, making sure this solution gets all the way down to the ear drum. The vinegar provides an acidic rinse that fights fungus and bacteria and the alcohol helps dry out the ear. I do this each time my ear canal gets wet (like after a swim), as moisture is a breeding ground for problems. This is for prevention and NOT treatment of an ear infection; would not use it if I suspected perforation of the ear drum.

Good luck on your freediving; its great exercise!

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