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The descent breath ?

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Well-Known Member
Apr 21, 2003
Hi all

This is probably a question thats been covered before, but has been on my mind a lot lately, so here goes...
I have felt a few times when diving that I am not getting a FULL quota of air when I take my final breath thru a snorkel. In the same way, when doing static breath-holds out of water, and breathing in thru my mouth on a last breath, I really feel that I get a good lungfull.

Is it my imagination, and would you get a better 'final-breath' if you could find a comfortable way of doing it without a snorkel on a freediving / spearfishing session ??


I have heard some people complain about that, but since I started using an expand-a-lung (diaphragm resistance exerciser), I am used breathing with some resistance. In fact I even close my lips to where I get some resistance when doing dry static’s or else it just doesn’t feel right. The resistance seems to help me relax and breath in with more control.

I wouldn’t want to take my head out of water and lose visual contact with underneath, for the time it takes to do the final breath. If you don’t feel full, you might try doing a few packs after your final breath. If you don’t know what packs are that’s okay, we can explain it to you.
Good luck,
Hey Don

Thanks for the reply. I have heard of packing, and have seen it being brought up before, but I searched thru previous posts, and cannot find anything which I understand clearly. Eric Fattah's ( Spelling ?) website has a step by step guide, but although I read about using your tongue to 'push' air back into your lungs, I have no idea if I'm doing anything correctly, it does'nt feel effective at all when I do it ???
My current understanding is that I take a very deep breath, trying to fill my lungs from the stomach area first, upwards. Once I have a full lungful, I then do a series of short, fast 'gasps' inward to grab a few extra little mouthfuls. Is this packing ???? I'm afraid it's all a bit unclear right now.

Jeff :confused:
You’re very close. I was more confused then you are about 1½ years ago. I took a freediving course and my instructor was able to explain and demonstrate it. Basically when you are filling your lungs you are using your lungs and diaphragm. But by using the same technique you use to drink out of a straw, you can use your mouth to suck air in. Then you do a swallowing type motion, but instead of swallowing it down your stomach you push it into your lungs.

First, use caution and don’t do it more than 6 to 10 times at first. It’s very easy to master the technique and put more in your lungs than they can handle. After you take your last breath, put your lips in a small circle and suck like your sucking on a straw. Do the swallowing like motion and then suck again, etc.. Hold it in for about 15 seconds. If all of a sudden your lungs get this incredible full feeling, you know you have done it.

Once you start getting it, Eric’s article will probably make more sense and become more useful. I believe he is the inventor and master of it.
Eric is certainly a master (he taught me how) , but the great American freediver Bob Croft is credited with "inventing" it.
Erik Y.
More Karma for your time Don, thanx V. much, starting to fit the pieces together now !
Just a few months ago, loading my Fins and wetsuit into my bag was 'packing' for a free-dive !!:D
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I have also managed tongue packing, and I can pack through a snorkel.....very nive when spearfishing.
Just thought I'd throw in my experiences with packing...

Jeff, I packed for about four months thinking I was doing it properly. Then, one day I changed my technique slightly, realized how to really pack, and everything changed. I hadn't actually been packing at all. I was getting little bits of air into my lungs, but only topping up to what a truly full inhale would have been. Once I realized how to do it properly I was able to really pack and compress additional air on top of a full breath.

From my experience, and speaking with numerous other people, it seems that you often just have to keep working at it until it clicks. Once you get it you'll know.

Since then I have also learned to pack with my snorkel, but I don't find it as efficient. I can't pack as much air through a snorkel and I'm also guessing that the air in the snorkel is going to be higher in CO2 from breathing through it.

It was hard to get used to, but I now lay on my back and relax during my breath-up, then pack and slowly roll over before beginning my descent. If I do it slowly and in a relaxed manner I find it much more effective that breathing up with my face in the water.

Jason Billows
Ottawa, Canada
awesome guys, thanks V.much, have a good idea which direction to move in now. It seems like a very difficult thing to explain...I think Jason hit the nail on the head when he said " You will know when you are doing it right ", I guess it just feels right.
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Here's what I wrote on another post a while back:
Packing was taught to me by Eric Fattah, and it goes something like this:
Open your mouth and fill it up with as much air as possible, then close your mouth. Now open the"valve" to your lungs and push the air into your chest, while bringing your chin towards your chest. Close the valve that goes to your lungs. Keeping your lungs closed, open your mouth again while lifting your chin upwards. Fill your mouth with air, close your lips, then open the valve to your lungs again, chin towards chest, pushing the air into your lungs, then close the "valve" again. You have now done 2 "packs". Keep doing this and you will notice that your chest begins to expand as the pressure and volume builds in your lungs.
There is of course a limit to this, and you must be very careful. I have heard that practitioners have damaged their lungs, but never seen it happen. Any stretching in any part of the body must be slowly worked up to over a long period of time, and the lungs and chest are no different.
You can try doing a number of packs, then stretch your chest and torso in all directions while holding your breath with the extra "packed" air. Be careful, as packing can cause the blood pressure in your head to drop dramatically, causing you to pass out. Do it on your knees if you are feeling as if your blood pressure is low. Take your time and be careful with yourself
Good luck,
Erik Y.
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Originally posted by caymandiver
Has anybody here mastered the tounge packing besides Erik F?

Yep, me. And sooner than later my girlfriends eventually get it. :cool:

It's a very smooth process to use when in the kelp and doing the quiet thing and very worth the time to understand.


How about trying some easier things first. Sometimes it sounds "cool" to be able to do what these advanced guys are doing, but don't forget... these guys are ADVANCED. I'm scared sometimes reading how many newcomers are so eager to master what the "masters" have spent a long time mastering. :hmm

I stick to things that are "easy" and pretty idiot proof. For one, I make sure my body is as high in the water column as possible. Sometimes I have to be moving forward to plane myself up. The deeper your body sits in the water, the more pressure you're going to have to overcome to get the same amount of air into your lungs as you would out of water. So, minimize this effect by staying flat and shallow.

Second, roll your chin/head toward the snorkel side to relieve some of the pressure that's affecting it as you're taking that final breath. Think of how the longer the tube(same diameter), the more difficult it is to bring air through it, granted the top is always at water level. Of course it's only a matter of inches, but every bit helps. Actually, you'd be surprised with the difference.

Thirdly(word?), pull your hands down to your side or even on to your lower back. This will loosen your shoulder blades a bit and take some pressure off your chest cavity from the back. Yeah, it seems funny, but it works. Try it. ;) Also, try to rotate your shoulders downwards. What you're trying to do is just relax everything surrounding your lungs. Obviously, the less resistance they(lungs) are subjected to, the easier it is for you to inhale. :cool:

Lastly, make sure your weightbelt is low on your waist or even on your hips if you have a rubber one. This is pretty important.

Anyways, good luck and keep it simple.

I learned how to pack a couple of months ago. Atleast i think i do it somehow correctly, i really feel my lungs getting filled way beyond whats possible with a "deep" breath. I also use the technique "you use to drink out of a straw", mentioned above.

Don't master packing through snorkel yet, but i guess time with solve that problem for me...

I many packs can you guys manage before you are full?
After doing a really deep breath, stomach first and top it off with raising my chin upwards, i can manage 3-5 packs...

Seem like some people can go on forever :)
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right on andersn,

I like to play with different " advanced" techniques, but when spearing its got to be automatic smooth and relaxed. Simple works much better. Had not thought of turning my head, I'll try it, thanks.

Originally posted by squip
I learned how to pack a couple of months ago. Atleast i think i do it somehow correctly, i really feel my lungs getting filled way beyond whats possible with a "deep" breath. I also use the technique "you use to drink out of a straw", mentioned above.

Don't master packing through snorkel yet, but i guess time with solve that problem for me...

I many packs can you guys manage before you are full?
After doing a really deep breath, stomach first and top it off with raising my chin upwards, i can manage 3-5 packs...

Seem like some people can go on forever :)


Be careful with trying to do such and such number of packs it can hurt. I remember trying to beat my pb for the number of packs when I first started and I hurt my lungs fairly badly twice, the doc said I tore some of the alveoli in my lungs and believe me it was hard and painful to breathe after that.

To answer your question I remember reading that Eric fattah did 70packs before a dive, myself after lots of practicing I can do only 30 but I havent hurt my lungs since I learnt my lesson in the beginning, take care

The number of packs you can do is not necessarily an indicator of how well you can pack.

Number of packs possible are affected by how efficient your initial breath is before packing, how flexible your lungs and chest are and your method of packing.

For example, I know divers who pack with the "sipping from a straw" method that has been mentioned and they can do a large number of packs. I on the other hand tend to pack with a "golfball eating" method which takes in more air at one time, resulting in a lesser number of packs to achieve the same air intake.

If you really want to increase the number of packs you can do with the intention of increasing the volume of air you can take in, then focus on your technique and chest expanding exercises.

Jason Billows
Ottawa, Canada
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