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Equalization problem in inverted position

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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New Member
Nov 8, 2004
I am doing Frenzel technique and I can equalize very easily out of the water. But when i am diving in inverted position I have problems. I can't push air to my ears. Things get better when I am diving in across position. Maybe I am not to relax in inverted position.
Does anyone of you has the same problem;
Any idea;

Thanks a lot
A couple of the usual tips:

Do you keep your head in a "nuetral" position? - If you dive down at 90 degrees then your face should be staring at the "horizon" at 0 degrees.
If that doesn't work, try looking above the horizon - in a way that you can see the surface while descending.

Try descending slower and equalize as often as possible - even every feet. Afterwards if it works, work out a better pace.

Equalize once on the surface, just before the duckdive.

Try continous equaliztion - from the surface, with constant pressure.

Check that you don't get hood squeeze (fill it and your ears with water before diving).

If that doesn't work, then there were a few threads about equalization problems while inverted. Look for them.

Good luck and don't despair!
some people seem to have favorable anatomy when it comes to compensation and some dont. i belong to the unlucky ones with easy blocking eustachian tubes... my piece of advice: experiment with the position of your head in general and the position of your jaw in paricular. me for example if my jaw is not shifted "forward enough" i have no chance of compensating head down. the eustachian tubes block right after a whistling noise. the difficult point comes when i have to get up air out of my lungs by lifting the diaphragm, below residual volume depth. i try to do this in a continuous way too, but often i fall short of one of these movements. anyway: take the good piece of advice from deepthought, relax your neck, head and tongue and watch your jaw - then you will improve! :p

good luck
Thanks for your answers

Well , the problem keeps to my left ear only. The right ear equalizes fine. Both ears , equalizes fine and very very easily out of the water. It seems like I can't control neck muscles the same way like I can out of the water. I can't push air to my ears , the same way I do out of the water. But the pressure is enough to equalize the right ear. Left ear is the problem.

Does anyone has a tip for this?

Thnks a lot
Stretch the left side of your neck (tilting your head to the right) while equalizing. The first few meters are usually the hardest, after that maybe you could equalize normally.
Equalize as often as possible(!) - your e-tubes are narrowing from the hydrostatic pressure before you can feel your ear drums signaling for equalizing, so when you try to equalize they might be already shut.
Equalize over 20 times for the first 10 meters if that's what works - if doing the frenzel it doesn't take much energy from you.
From experience, most equalization problems and mine when I had it, come from non-perfect technique. I remeber I have heard the same 'Don't worry it'll come in time' phrase from people and looking at them sceptically.

And now it's my time to say 'Don't worry it'll come in time'. I had the same problem with inverted equalization, it has gone away with time, but you do have to train (real diving). Try reading Eric's eq. document and diving not for depth but slowly, putting your attention on equalization.

P.S. Don't push it, if you feel pain, something you're doing is wrong. In this case 'No pain no gain' doesn't apply.

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Thanks all of you for your time

Well , the problem seems to be in controling the neck muscles. I tried simulating the inverted position siting with head-down in a sofa and I had the same problem with vertical diving. Seems like my neck muscles moving up to the top of the head anf I loose the totaly control of them. I mean , it is very easy for me to equalize in normal position out of the water. I have full control of the neck muscles. Maybe I am not as relax as I have to.
I will reach the vertical position equalizasion , even if I will train for 10 hours a day. I tried to hard to reach this until this point. I will post my progress. Nothing stop me now.

Thanks a lot all of you
[... even if I will train for 10 hours a day. I tried to hard to reach this until this point. I will post my progress....]

what frox wanted to say: relax and practice over and over again without getting hard and frustrated...
what frox didn't want to say: train 10 hours a day and push it for a certain point....

freediving is mostly about finding an approach of relaxed, efficiant and natural movements under water. equalisation in freediving mirrors the status and excellence of your approach. once again: relax your neck, head and tongue and watch your jaw an do not try to push compensation at all. then you will improve!


How do you know you are doing the real frenzel technique? Using the real frenzel technique, it is possible to break your own eardrums on land, by equalizing with great force. With such force, it is almost impossible to get to a point where one ear will not equalize... Usually if one or both ears won't equalize, it is because the person is doing valsalva, and thinks they are doing frenzel.

I had similiar problems when i started freediving, to the point that my PB at the time was only 20m which involved turning completely upright 6 times on the descent in order to equalise. I also was scuba diving a lot at the time and I would have to abort dives due to equalising problems.

The good news is that practicing the frenzel technique (via Eric's document) will solve this for you....well it did for me and I was one of the worst cases I'd heard of. I can now do a 50m dive with a mono in 1:15 which requires fast equalisation on the descent.

The only thing I did in addition to Eric's document was take the second stage off a scuba regulator and with a SLOW airflow coming out of the end of the hose I'd stick it in my mouth and practice controlling my epiglottis and soft palate. OBVIOUSLY BE VERY CAREFUL WITH THIS AND REGULATE THE AIRFLOW BEFORE YOU STICK THE HOSE IN YOUR MOUTH. A blown up balloon would be just as good and probably safer!!

I had the same problem with being able to equalise headup but not head down and it was loss of control over the epiglottis and soft palate in the head down position that was the problem.

Here is how you can use the air flow approach
Epiglottis closed and soft palate up/down - mouth fills up
Epiglottis open and soft palate up - lungs fill up
Epiglottis closed and soft palate neutral - air goes out your nose(frenzel should work)

One other thing, keep your head in line with your body and don't look for the bottom and stretch your neck as this makes it harder to control the muscles you need to use.

hopefully this is of some use to you.


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First of all , thanks all of you for your answers.

How do you know you are doing the real frenzel technique

Eric , I know I am doing Frenzel because :
1. I learned the Frenzel following the instructions of your document (You are Eric Fattah , right? By the way if you want a translation of your document in Greek I can sent you one)
2. I use the "Adams Apple" ("Bobbing Adams Apple" ) to move upwards the back of my tongue. I can ,almost stick the back of my tongue to my palate
3. I can't equalize using the valsalva technique

It is 100% sure that I am doing the Frenzel technique. You are right , it is possible to break your eardrums ( I couldn't believe this 2 months ago) on land if you are practicing a lot and hard, so I am practicing without pinch my nose , just to get the tongue movement. Periodicaly I am doing the technique by pinch the nose but gently. I always hear my ears opening (both of them instanly) when I am doing Frenzel by pinching my nose. I cal almost hear them open without the nose pinching. Sometimes I can open my ears in the sea doing the Frenzel without nose pinching , just using the against pressure of my mask.

Unfortunately It is not easy for me to practice at the sea in this time. I can't find a pool with dept bigger than 3 meters , so I have to practice on land. But "life under the sea is different than life on land". Anyway.

The real problem is the vertical (totaly vertical position). Things are much better in across position. But in vertical position , I feel like I loose the control of my neck muscles , which use to make the Frenzel. Like the muscles moving up to my head.

From other hand , Larry "Harris" Taylor ( http://www-personal.umich.edu/~lpt/ears.htm ) says :
"The inverted position is the most difficult position for equalizing pressure because it places the middle ear below the mouth ...thus the equalization process must work against the pressure gradient of the water column.
Also, the head down position places the inner ear semi-circular canals in the least favorable orientation for determining direction in the water column."

Well , I tried very hard to reach the Frenzel. I feel that must be something very simple that block me now. Maybe I just need more "water life".

Any comment , idea or advice is welcome.

Eric by the way , German Stuka bomber pilots were using the Frenzel hands free , didn't they?
The frenzel technique doesn't require the use of any neck muscles or even throat muscles, just your tongue and soft palate and epiglottis....
Eric , I started by this way , but when I read this (http://faculty.washington.edu/ekay/MEbaro.html#Simple) I started use my Adams Apple. It is much more easy I think and more efficient "bombing the Adams Apple". There is a video with a lecture of this doctor , too. I just put the tongue in the elevate and bomb (move up) the Adams Apple. This makes the back of my tongue moves upwards. I don't know if I describe this in the right way. If you want I can send you the part of the video showing the movement.
Well , I finaly noticed that my equalization problem starts from my mask. I can't have the "feeling" of my pinched nose with my mask. I equalize very easy ( I mean very very easy) out of the water, but when I put the mask to my face (out of the water) and try to equalize , I start having problems. I loose the feeling of pinched nose. Maybe a mask with very soft silicon cound help.
Does anyone had the same experience?
Any suggestion?

Thanks a lot
After experiencing the problem stated in the subject of this thread, I figured I'd give this a bump.

I was diving this weekend, but (again) experienced problems clearing my left ear. I was doing simple inverted position pull downs. My technique was to equalize on the surface, dive, pull down, equalize, pull down, equalize, etc. After about 3-4 equalizations (Valsalva...) I couldn't equalize anymore.

At this point, I'd right myself, and equalize relatively easily, then continue down to about 10m or so...that's the point where I'd be FUBAR'd, no amount of effort could equalize my ear and would have to ascend. To say this is getting slightly discouraging would be an understatement. :vangry I'm impatient, what can I say...

Apart from learning the Frenzel technique, which is still a mystery to me despite my best efforts (and useless tongue...), is there any other tips or tricks from anyone who has solved this problem?
don't give up

my girlfriend couldn't eq head down and spent more than a year of consistent practise to finally be able to do the frenzel efficiently. she's the worst case i know.

apart from all the advice given already i would add that food can have a noticable effect on your ability to equalise. avoid cheese, milk, joghurts etc as a first measure. if you smoke, don't. also, before going in the water maybe you want to try sniffing hot cammomile fumes (hot water in a pot, cammomile, a towel over your head). that should clear a lot of congestion. the same goes for sniffing saltwater. if your tubes are narrow, you want them as clear as possible.

another thing i can definitely recommend is to REALLY make an effort in trying to understand what actually happens when you equalise. try to write down as detailed as possible how you do it. "i pinch my nose and blow" is not enough. if you have problems writing an A4 you might want to work on it some more. if you are not completely aware what you do, you don't know which mistake you make, and therefore you can't fix it.

being able to eq only one side and not the other i haven't heard of yet. but i would bet that with enough practise you will find out how to do it.

don't give up

immerlustig said:
if you have problems writing an A4 you might want to work on it some more.
Sorry, I don't follow you here...what's an A4? :duh I know what you mean though, I should probably think more about what I'm doing and what's happening.

immerlustig said:
don't give up

Thanks :D
I found that; doing a very light equalization on the surface before the dive and then pressurizing the mask on descent, (exhaling lightly in to the mask as I descend every 3', or even more frequently) made equalizing much easier for me. This also helps to alleviate the mask squeeze.
I started this topic in January. Now the problem has been solved.
The problem was : BAD TECHNIQUE in any case.
If you relax and try to improve your equalization technique , problem will be solved. But it takes time. One step at a time. It needs prectice.
I don't know if someone of you has anatomical problems but in my case bad technique was the problem