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Stretching for freediving

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
It can take a long time to get an up-to-date response or contact with relevant users.

Your experience is a good warning that people should be careful when stretching. Good athletes and those drawn to "extreme" sports tend to want to push their limits but a good stretch is taking the muscles and connective tissue to their end points so those limits need to be respected and only gradually expanded.

I'll add to my description of the exercises above that in addition to the optimal method of doing 3 rounds of 30 seconds of the stretches it is best to make each round gradually more intense. You don't want to be going a hundred percent from the first moment.

In your particular case I would add that rib cartilage can also be slower to heal because there is usually no blood flow to the tissues, which facilitates healing. You will probably regain normal function a lot sooner then you will be able to regain freediving function, which is pushing the extreme end of your rib cage expansion.

All the best for your recovery,

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Thanks for your reply Rob! I hope that you are right and before 1 month I am ok, but I have been so many weeks without any improvement and feeling so bad that now I don´t see one month or two as very long time. Maybe the injury is in the cartilage, because is taking a lot of time to heal, also I have sometimes some clickings or crepitations in my sternum when I do some movements with my arms.

I should have done what you said about gradual stretching, but I didn´t, it is so easy to empty the lungs to the max as usually we do before the inmersion, that I didn´t think that doing stretches at full lung would have been so bad for me, also my previous injury didn´t help, and I am sure that is the main culprit of this situation.

Thank you again and I hope to be soon totally recovered.

Best regards,
Sorry, in my previous post I wanted to say "to fill the lungs to the max" instead of "to empty"
Thanks Robwynge,

Interesting stuff, the detail helps a lot. I'll be trying it as well as I am able. Fun to find that I stumbled onto something that works well.

My interest in this kind of stuff is the opposite of what many freedivers are looking for because I dive FRC (about half lung). I don't even remember what a full inhale feels like. I am trying to get my chest to be as small as possible, so I can be comfortable in 30 meters. I can't mouthfil, so depth is limiting. Could you comment on stretching to allow the chest to collapse farther?s Particularly interested in stretches for the muscles on the back of the chest and the front.

Interesting issue - generally, collapsing the thoracic cage is a matter of muscle contractions, not a question of flexibility. The oblique muscles along with and rectus and transverse abdominals assist with "forced exhalation," so my first thought would be to make sure you felt like you were maximizing the strength of those muscles to maximally compress the thoracic and abdominal cavities.

The rectus is responsible for trunk flexsion and the obliques for flexion, rotation, and side bending, in addition to their forced exhalation function. The transverse abdominals is more primarily for compression of the abdominal cavity.

While it is useful to make sure that you train the muscles through the full range of motion of all of their functions, since what you're doing is so specialized with respect to forced exhalation, I would start by training through that movement itself. Breath in and then force all the air out until you have exhaled every last but if air, even if that is more empty lunged than you usually dive at. To make sure the transverse is involved, not just the obliques and muscles that are attached to the ribs, think of trying to get as skinny as possible as you pull in all of your ab muscles on the front and side. When you breathe out squeeze squeeze squeeze all the muscles as tight as they can be, but note this is not a yogic vacuum. Think more like bracing for a punch, not sucking in to create a hollow space.

One safety tip that you might not think of - when compressing the ribs and abdomen this strongly increases the internal pressure on the organs which can push them down towards the pelvic floor. This can cause bigger problems in women but still can cause injury in men so the way to prevent a problem is to also squeeze the perineum area while you are doing the compressions. this will counterbalance the downward pressure.

Let me know if any of that doesn't make sense or isn't clear.

I would wonder though whether either flexibility or strength is what is limiting your FRC diving or not. Instead of CO2 tolerance and the ability to withstand the contractions. Is there something in particular that makes you think you might have a rib cage flexibility problem or a lack of the strength needed to compress the ribs and abdominal cavity sufficiently?
Google is very handy for looking up pics of muscle groups. The muscle groups you mention are ones being stretched doing what I'm doing, although I can probably be more directed. I'll play with that.

It doesn't seem to me that making these muscles stronger will help me. I've found that the best way to get to comfortable depth is to relax and let flexibility work. If I try to force it at depth, that very quickly leads to pressure contractions and squeeze unless I come up 20 or 30 feet, real fast. From long practice, I'm certain that stretching diaphragm and especially intercostals makes a big difference in my depth ability, but I'm not sure what the mechanism is; I assumed it was flexibility.

thinking about the exhale excercise you suggest, I do something similar now, but will focus on your suggestions. For sure that produces a high degree of negative pressure in the lungs. I've found that the more I get used to that feeling(and probably have the lungs adapt), the deeper and more comfortable my dives and the more resistant I am to squeeze. Anybody else trying to follow this, be careful. You can squeeze yourself right on your living room couch.

What limits my depth is ability of the chest to contract. Of all the great things about diving half lung, keeping co2 low in the core is probably the best part (for me). My co2 tolerance is lousy and I don't like contractions. Diving this way minimizes contraction severity and makes it possible for me to do long dives. Dive full lung and co2 drives me to the surface much quicker.

When I reach my equalization limit, normally I still have plenty of time, no co2 problems or serious contractions at all. Most of my diving is at less than 80 ft, so depth is not limiting, but occasionally there will be something that I would love to dive 30 meters or slightly more. (Bahamian wall diving is spectacular beyond belief, but its deep, usually starts about 125ft).

Any further ideas?
@cdavis "What limits my depth is ability of the chest to contract. Of all the great things about diving half lung, keeping co2 low in the core is probably the best part (for me). My co2 tolerance is lousy and I don't like contractions. Diving this way minimizes contraction severity and makes it possible for me to do long dives. Dive full lung and co2 drives me to the surface much quicker. "

This is interesting to me. It seems to me that the amount of CO2 you produce would be the same no matter how full or empty your lungs are. The CO2 is produced in your tissue, gets in your blood, and is sensed in sensors in your head (at least that is what I have read). I don't see how the amount of air in your lungs would effect that CO2.
Reducing your lung volume enhances bloodshift thereby keeping co2 produced by finning away from the core where the sensors are. Also lower bouyancy makes the dive much more energy efficient, far less co2 produced on the way down.Tthe first half of the dive becomes essentially a static and provides time for blood shift to set in strong. By the time you start finning, strong blood shift keeps that c02 away from the sensors until you surface, also conserving 02 and concentrating it in the core. This is the heart of why FRC,(exhale, half lung) diving works.
OK. That makes sense. Will this work in pool workouts or do you need the pressure/depth?
"The muscle groups you mention are ones being stretched doing what I'm doing, although I can probably be more directed. I'll play with that."

The muscles that I mention are contracting when you empty the lungs, not stretching. They stretch when you expand the lungs on an inhale. The ribs get closer together and the abdominal cavity is compressed.

Google is great I'll add that I highly recommend a book called "Anatomy of Breathing," by Blandine Calais-Germain. She has a bunch of exercises in there as well that you might find interesting. I'll confess that I have not done them because I have been working with Guy Voyer's system, so I can't vouch for them based on personal experience, but the anatomy sections are excellent. Her general anatomy book, "Anatomy of Movement" is also great.

I am not an FRC expert so I would be curious to know if other FRC divers find the ability to contract the chest a limiting factor or if there are other issues that might more likely be the main cause.
Understand on the stretching. I was refering to what I was doing with the intercostal stretches(best done full lung) and U banda, where the stretch is on exhale(I think). i try to maximize the effect of U banda with reverse packing. I think that promotes ability to contract, I know it protects me from squeeze.

The main disadvantage of FRC diving is depth restriction, especially at first. Chest flexibility is the main factor. Those who can mouthfil can do greater depth, not sure exactly how that works, but it seems to allow greater relaxation (and chest shrinkage). Curious why you would wonder about other limiting factors, am I missing something?

When I first started exhale diving, 60 ft was deep and difficult to equalize. The elephant was definitely standing on my chest at that depth. With practice and time, the body adapts to smaller lung sizes and you get most of your depth range back. It appears that the lungs develop a greater ability to accept blood shift, filling the lung corpuscles with blood, replacing air space and allowing greater depth. Improving chest flexibility helps. Whatever, time and practice work. My PB full lung was somewhere around 125 ft. My PB half lung is 109 ft. If I'm diving a lot, 90 ft is comfortable.

it seems totally counter-intuitive that you can inhale half of normal and get longer, more comfortable, safer dives(if you do it right), but its true.
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J Campbell,

it works in the pool. There have been some pretty amazing dynamics done FRC. i know a DBer who does water polo on exhale. He said it was hell to get used to but works really well. For normal divers, it works a lot better with depth.
It’s about time we talked about stretching. Off all the possible aids we have talked about, stretching to me is the most definite improvement to static times I have experience. The difference between stretching will add at least 15 seconds to my static, and this is not based just on feeling, but actually differences in a pulse/oximeter readings.

The idea behind stretching before diving is not just for muscle performance, which in static is no existent anyway, but stretching, if done properly, will relax the muscles which in turn will use less O2 at rest. Martin Stepanek and Kirk Krack really stress stretching and myself and another member put together a word document with some of the stretches they showed us at the PFD clinic. It’s not all the stretches, because its kind of hard to remember them when you’re so focused on relaxation like we were in the clinic, but it’s a good start. Besides if you want all the stretches and knowledge of the clinic, you have to take it. Those guys are doing an awesome service, but they need the financial support from attendees to continue with the clinics.

Anyone who would like to get the word document, PM me with your e-mail address and I will send it to you. Martin said we should do each stretch three times and hold each one for at least 20 seconds. When a muscle is stretched it tries to resist the stretch before it gives in and relaxes, so if you don’t hold the stretch long enough you might actually be tightening the muscle rather than relaxing it.

The idea is to stretch the muscles you need loose to perform the dive, like EeroS is doing, but also to stretch all the major muscles in your body so they will relax and consume less O2.
send me that document please. i know it has been long time but if u still have it, pls do. dadaly_hiphop at yahoo dot com . thank you
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