Did you know that there is a special way to equalise your ears when freediving? It’s called Frenzel Equalisation and it can make a big difference in how comfortable you feel underwater.
In this article, we’ll explain what Frenzel Equalisation is and how to do it properly. We’ll also discuss some of the benefits of using this technique.
But First… What is equalisation?
For those who are new to freediving, you could be wondering. What is equalisation?
Equalisation, also known as “ear-popping” is the act of equalising the pressure in your ears to the surrounding pressure. You’ve probably done this a bunch yourself whenever you have been underwater or on a plane.
There are various maneuvers used to equalise the pressure in the middle ear with outside pressure. These maneuvers are used to help air enter along the Eustachian tubes, as this does not always happen automatically when the pressure in the middle ear is lower or higher than the outside pressure.
Why Do We Need to Equalise When Freediving?
As you descend into the water, the pressure increases. If you don’t equalise, this can cause pain in your ears – like when you go on a plane. Equalising helps to relieve this pressure and makes freediving a lot more comfortable.
Equalisation when freediving is important because if you do not do it, the pressure differential will cause pain in your ears and could eventually lead to damage.
Some Common Issues People Face When Equalising
Failing to Equalise Frequently Enough
Pressure doubles in the first 10 metres below the surface. This means that you need to equalise frequently. It is recommended that you equalise at least every 1 metre of your descent. The faster you descend the more frequently you should be equalising.
Trying to Equalise Too Late
If you feel strong pressure or pain in your ears, that means you have left equalising too late and it could become impossible to equalise. It is important to always equalise ahead of every pressure change.
Trying to Equalise with the Wrong Head Position
If you can see where you are going, then your head is raised. Tucking your head in so it is in line with your body can reduce the pressure on your eustachian tubes. Therefore, making equalising much easier.
Not Equalising Both Ears
It is important to make sure you have equalised both of your ears. If one ear is still not equalised when you start to descend, it is likely that the pressure in that ear will increase and cause pain. Stop straight away if one ear stops equalising and return to the surface.
Straining While Equalising
Equalisation should always be done gently and effectively. It is important not to strain when you are equalising, as this can cause too much pressure in your ears. In extreme cases, over-pressurising can blow your eustachian tubes outwards. Over pressurising your ears can cause a reverse block by creating inflammation or barotrauma in the tissues surrounding your eustachian tubes.
Unable to Equalise
If you have tried methods to equalise your ears and still aren’t able to equalise it is important that you stop and come back to the surface.
Unable to Equalise Head First
When you first start freediving, pulling feet first down the line can be helpful in learning how to equalise. If you find this easy, start descending at an angle and slowly begin moving vertically.
What is Frenzel Equalisation?
Frenzel equalisation is a breathing technique used by freedivers to help them descend deeper underwater. The technique involves closing off glottis, also known as the vocal fold, and using the throat and the tongue to push the air to the nasal cavity. Whilst pinching the nose and pushing the tongue up to the roof of the mouth, this then forces the air to open the eustachian tubes and allow the air to flow to the middle ear. This allows the ears to equalise or pop and allows divers to descend deep into the ocean.
This method can take divers as deep as 60 metres. Other methods such a mouthfill can take divers 100+ metres deep. We teach the mouthfill method in our level 3 courses and our instructor courses.
How to Perform the Frenzel Equalisation Technique?
STEP 1: First start by gently pinching your nose close (or half-close if you are not submerged).
STEP 2: Close the epiglottis/soft pallet (if this is done correctly you should not able able to breathe any air through your open mouth).
STEP 3: Close your mouth, then place the tip of your tongue behind your front upper teeth. This is known as the T Position.
STEP 4: Push the back of your tongue towards the roof of your mouth (as if you are making a “g” or “k” sound. (You will feel the back of the tongue touch the roof of your mouth).
STEP 5: Now, relax your soft palate so that it is open, allowing air to travel up into your nasal cavity.
STEP 6: Next, shift the back of your tongue upwards, pushing into the airspace (as you are doing this, you should see your larynx moving upwards).
STEP 7: Lastly, you should now be able to force the air through your eustachian tubes and into your middle ears, therefore equalising them.
Benefits of Using the Frenzel Equalisation Technique
The Frenzel equalisation technique can provide a number of benefits for freedivers, including:
- Improved air distribution throughout the body, which can lead to increased gas reserves and a longer dive time
- Reduced risk of decompression sickness
- Improved ability to equalise the ears and sinuses, leading to less pain and discomfort during and after a dive
- Greater control over the descent rate, allowing for a smoother transition into freefall
Overall, the Frenzel equalisation technique can help to improve both the safety and enjoyment of freediving. With its ability to provide greater reserves of air and improved ear protection, it can help to make diving safer and more comfortable.
Learn Frenzel Equalisation in 3 Minutes!
Try Frenzel Equalisation At One of Our Courses
So, there you have it. Now you have a better understanding of what equalisation is, the problems you can face when equalising, what Frenzel equalisation is and how to perform this technique particular technique.
Remember, if you are ever unsure if you have equalised properly, it’s best to return back to the surface. If you are interested in Frenzel equalisation and learning how to freedive safely, visit our courses here or if you have any freediving enquiries contact us.