5 Tips for Equalizing Brandon Gross

by Brandon Gross - May 21st

5 Tips for Equalizing

FII is an amazing freediving education program that teaches how to enjoy the underwater world with more comfort and safety. Last year I had the pleasure of teaching over 100 people how to freedive, many of them reaching course maximums diving 20 meters and holding their breath for 3 minutes. 

The greatest limiting factor to hitting course maximums (Note: It is not required to hit course maximums for certificiation) was not breath-hold, it wasequalization of the ears.

There are several factors in equalizing while freediving that makes it difficult. The first and most significant is the fact that you arehead down. The air that you use to equalize will want to go to the highest point, your lungs, away from your ears. While I can't help with the head down position while descending, there are five simple tips to help freedivers equalize their ears, some in the water and some out.

1. Hydrate- If we are well hydrated, our mucous is thinner making it less sticky. This allows the Eustachian tubes the ability to let air pass through with less chance of blockage.

2. Head Position- Make sure that your head is in a neutral position. Many untrained divers want to look toward the bottom, stretching out  and creasing the Eustachian tube. This can make a substantial difference in the ability to equalize. During your FII freedive course we will show the correct body position for effective freediving.

3. Equalize Often- Many freedivers wait until they feel discomfort to equalize and that is often too late. Always pre-equalize before the freedive and equalize before you feel discomfort. My habit is that every time my right leg kicks forward, I equalize. Develop a good habit of equalizing early and often. NEVER TRY TO PUSH PAST DISCOMFORT OR PAIN. Doing so can cause injury.DOC's Pro Plugs - vented for freediving

4. Nasal Irrigation- Persons that suffer from respiratory congestion due to cold or allergies may benefit from passive nasal irrigation or Neti. When used as directed, passive saline irrigation of the nasal passages and sinuses can offer a great deal of relief from allergies and cold symptoms.

5. Ear Plugs (cold water)- Using vented earplugs like Doc's Pro Plugs or JBL Hydroseals can be very effective in helping to equalize in cold water. These earplugs allow a small amount of water to enter the ear canal and trap it there allowing your body heat to warm it up. The small hole venting the earplugs does not allow cold water to flush in and out of the ear canal. Equalizing with body temperature water against your eardrum is much easier in cold water.

Application of all of the hints and suggestions above can make a freedive much easier and enjoyable. Many of my students have benefited greatly by using these suggestionsand they are all incorporated into my personal dive routine.

None of the above information is meant to take the place of medical advice. It is recommended that if you have chronic equalization problems, visit your personal physician or ENT. Always take a freediving course before participating in any breath-hold activities.

Brandon Gross

Brandon Gross is a fulltime FII Freediving Instructor offering regular, monthly courses out of San Diego. He also travels to teach courses for dive shops and clubs in Texas. Brandon is sponsored by Beuchat Spearfishing www.beuchat-usa.com.  Check out Brandon's upcoming FII freediving course schedule here.

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