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Problems equalizing

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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New Member
Jul 11, 2002
Hello all,

First off all, please sorry for my bad English

Its my first time here in this forum :)

ok, I have a little problem; I'm having big problems to equalize bellow -30m ... just there are no air to do it.. i'm trying packing but its almost the same.. :confused: can you guys help me? I'm using the valsalva technique

Thank you very much for your time on this subject,
Hi Fernando,

Packing should make a difference, the only other easy thing is get the lowest volume mask you can. ie a Dacor bandit, Cressi Minima, Sphera or something like that. A really low volume mask makes a big difference, they will restrict your vision a bit more though.

Negative pressure training does help getting the lungs to stretch a bit more at depth.

If you learn the Mouth fill- Frenzel technique you should still be able equalise to almost any depth. It does take time to learn however. This would probably be your best bet.

I still use valvalsa, but combine it with jaw movement to get the Eustachian tubes open, it takes very little effort then.

I used to be only to equalise down to about 40m, but with the Cressi Minima mask, and a bit of training I have done 47m, no packing.

With full packing, I'm hoping to be able to equalise to at least another 10m.


Im the worlds worst equalizer my ears seem to be really tight and my lungs also get the awful empty feeling but as Walrus says packing helps heeps and it does even though I can only pack 10 times.

Dear bluemar

Herbert Nitsch, current world-record holder and fellow-Austrian has pointed me to the brilliant contributions of Eric Fattah on the internet, that have helped him achieve his records.

So take a look at Eric's treatise on the Frenzel/Fattah-technique:

I had the same problem as so many freedivers have! No air left
to equalize my ears - and I have an urge to communicate to You
and to any other person who happens to bump into my message -how much the observation of this technique has helped me - because it is easy to learn !!!!

To re-explain Eric's method in my own words: You close the epiglotis and SHUT OFF THE CONNECTION between your mouth and your lungs. As pressure increases You push up pockets of air into Your mouth (squeeze them through your otherwise closed epiglotis). You begin about 15-20 mt before failure depth and continue to do this as long as you can. The simple trick: The air is trapped in Your mouth and the empty - almost negative lung cannot take it back. With this trapped air (Your cheeks should be inflated) You do a Frenzel-technique (press the air into Your ears without the help of the lungs).

My personal testimony:

My failure depth used to be -35mt (couldn't do equalizations past that depth) allowing me to cheat my way further down to a maximum of -40 to -42mt, depending on my shape for that day. I did the first austrian national record that way in sardinia in '98. (-42mt)
I went down with the uncertainty to reach my goal - even though there was enough air to go deeper!! I hope, many freedivers can identify with me in this situation. Fortunately I reached my goal that day but my ears were bulged inward and started to hurt already. But with the Fattah Method I can equalize now at a depth of -45mt WITHOUT packing my lungs and with a "normal" Cressi Sub Super Occhio mask.

The reason why my progress is still slow is, because I have only my wife waiting for me at the surface (who is not a freediver).
Astoundingly it's pretty hard to find an apnea-buddy inspite of all the organizations out there, therefore I am glad that I found this forum ...
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Nice post Gerald,
I agree with you. I had the same problem. I couldn't equalize beyond 38, and to get 42 I had to hurt my ears. When I found the Fattah document, start to practice the technique. I haven't tried in the sea already, but in my negative dives at the pool it works perfectly, and equalize easily with empty lungs.
I'm happy too of having found this forum, I've learned a lot since I join it
Problems equalizing: further clarifications

It' so much fun to share techniques that really work!. Other posts have also helped me a lot! In an age of relativism without absolutes, things like preciseness and definition are harder to find than cool spring-water in the desert. But when I find definitions that help me, I am excited to pass them on. My description below is as precise as I can get it, almost too precise for a general application. I would call it the "frenzel-fattah-gerald" method. I want any reader of this post to grasp the main idea - which is to shut off the connection between the lung and the mouth with the help of the epiglottis and - based on that - customize their own technique: for example for fpernett that would be the "frenzel-fattah-pernett"-technique, or the "frenzel-mouthfill-frank"-technique. Equalizing is one of the most important subjects in freediving because we feel comfortable at depth as long as we still "have air" for our ears.

To clarify the frenzel-fattah method: Please don't worry if You don't master ALL the exercises as prescribed in the famous fattah.doc. Personally I haven't managed yet to use my tongue as a piston to pump air against the roof of my mouth. Enlightening for me was the fact that every equalization without the help of the lungs will be useful to apply this technique , whether it may still be called Frenzel or not. What is so brilliant about this document: There we find more than most of us would ever need in order to go deeper. Even partial application (as in my case) helped tremendeously. The transparency of this document makes it a real gem in the freediving world and should serve as an example of how to be a good steward of know-how, not leaving the rest of the world in the dark.

The most important thing is to close the epiglottis and push air through it into Your cheeks (as if You would clear Your throat). This should be done 15-20 Meters BEFORE failure depth. For us mortals that means @15-20m depth, afterwards it's too late. With increasing water pressure the cheeks collaps again, however I am still able to get little portions of air out of my lungs - in my case that would be between 20-28mt, where there is still enough air left to "refill" them. In a good, concentrated dive I should have my cheeks refilled for the last time @28mt. From there I have no more lung support and "live off" the air in my cheeks. By this time I have already been equalizing with my cheeks for (at least) the last 10mt. I have to, otherwise I "loose" the air that is trapped in my mouth. It would escape through my open epiglotis right back into my lungs. (For "conventional" dives down to 35mt I don't need that technique, in fact, here I can even equalize freehand). It takes a little practice to fill the cheeks, use them to equalize the next second and then to refill them again. The greatest difficulty is keeping the epiglottis closed while pumping new air into the cheeks and while pressurizing the air further into the eustachian tubes. After 28mt (IMHC = In my humble case) it get's easier, since no longer I am pumping air into my cheeks, but I am only squeezing air with my cheeks into my tubes. By this time I am already in a free-fall and can totally focus on my "cheek-vasalva". Please don't forget to prevent the air from being sucked back into Your lungs - the epiglottis must be shut from -15/20mt until You reach the bottom! It takes practice in the pool AND also in deep water to keep that from happening. Consider also: if we run out of air for equalization, we are psychologically convinced that we run out of air period. (eg: no more air to survive).

Packing and equalization:

Please consider: Negative pressure (empty lung) dives (see post #2 in this thread) and "pack-stretching" are excellent warm-up methods just to prepare the lungs for a deep dive! This is from WALRUS, post #4 in the thread: Packing technique question... "I definitely recommend Pack stretching, even if you don't use packing on the actual dive. After you have 'stretched', your maximum inhale without packing will be slightly more, or you can hold the normal amount with much less strain..."

Also note that the thread You are on right now: "Problems equalizing" started with bluemar complaining, that packing (alone) didn't help him to go deeper (quote below). I am not against packing, I only advice to practice it under supervision, because it could cause pre-dive blackouts in the water or secondary injuries due to collapsing (from a standing position). A german idiom transliterated into english goes like this: "trying to hit a sparrow with a canon-ball". In application: mastering the mouth-fill technique (and using a small diving mask of course) will shift the "packing-zone" (the depth where packing becomes indispensable) to a much deeper level, a level that most of us will never have to be concerned about.
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hello my friends.. i have this problem if it is a problem. the fact is tha when i try to equalize on land air goes to the ear drum but i get a feeling of fullness and no clearing in the ears until i swollow. is that natural. my ent told me thats normal. any opinions?
Thanks in advance
It sounds right to me. The fullness you feel is too much air on the inside of the ear (like returning to the surface). When you swallow, the eustachian tubes open and the inner ear returns to normal.
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