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the dreaded squeeze....

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OCeanDeepYoga

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Hey folks,

I'm here to ask for help because I'm just about at my wit's end in regards to my repeated squeezes. For a little context, I have only been diving for a couple years and have a PB of 43.3. That dive and the one before it were clean, fun and easy. I felt great as I know a dive should. Previous to that I had squeeze troubles in the mid 30's and once I got past 40 I thought I was in the clear. Recently I went out spearfishing and the two deepest dives of the day were to 25 and 27 meters. I spit blood before the third deep(ish) dive.

It's frustrating and confusing to me because I feel like I've done everything in the book that is recommended to prevent and heal squeezes: Full/empty lung stretches, pranayama, meditation and yoga (which i had a practice of long before I started freediving and now it has become more tailored to suit my diving,) I've listened to interviews with people like Samo who talk about overcoming squeezes, I've taken months away from depth (though not recently,) I've practiced long hangs at 10, 15, 20 m to try and adapt to depth gradually. Just as soon as a I feel like I'm healthy and I go for a deeper dive I squeeze. I'm also trying visualization and affirmations to shift my mindset towards healing and away from depression, fear and self-doubt.

I'm from Connecticut but have been in Kona, Hawaii since November with the intention of being able to dive regularly enough to get my body to adapt to depth. I am reaching out because I don't believe that I can't get over this, however I am willing to admit if I have a faulty approach.

I would be interested in seeing a doctor who really knows squeezes, though I know they are a relatively small group, or even a psychologist. Oh and also, I am an aspiring freediving instructor for Apnea Total and PFI (coronavirus has delayed my training) and my relationship with squeezes makes me nervous but is not discouraging about my abilities to heal, progress and share the love of freediving.

I'm open and grateful for any words of wisdom.

Best,
Owen
 

cdavis

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Hard to say much based on your comments, but it sounds like something is off with your lungs. 25-27 m full lung is a bit shallow for squeeze in completely normal lungs. You might be seeing the result of food sensitivity. A buddy of mine completely beat a long standing problem with shallow water squeeze by staying away from milk products for 3 days before a dive. Its been years slnce he had a problem. Perhaps there is some structural problem that might show up on the right kind of scan, assuming you could find a knowledgeable doc. Could be your chest flexibility is subnormal. If you are equalizing with mouth fill, its very easy to exceed your maximum equalization depth. There is a lot of knowledge in PFI, I'd ask around.

I dive half lung and had considerable, unpleasant experience with squeeze when I first started with that style. I beat my problems with dry practice, full exhale, reverse pac negatives combined with diaphragm stretches, plus lots of intercostal stretching. Also decided 30 m was about my max unless I was willing to go back to full lung(I wasn't). It was a slow process.
 

OCeanDeepYoga

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Thank you for your reply. Thats what's so puzzling to me; the fact that it is happening so shallow. I do believe that I have very sensitive lungs and am taking this attempt at recovery very seriously. I do know the night before the squeeze in question I was up too late snacking on store-bought pastries and junk like that. The lack of sleep, sense of regret and letting myself do what I know is not inline with my goals or intentions all contribute to being uncomfortable and unfocused in the water and thus, I think increase my chance of squeeze, or so I think. This is a a bad habit of mine driven by stress though in general I stick to a vegan diet with the occasional exception for a few eggs in the morning and fish that I spear personally. That's it though. I've avoided dairy for the most part for quite a while now.

I would definitely love to meet with a knowledgeable doctor and get some proper scans done to see what's really going on in my chest. I do have family and personal history of asthma as well, though its well managed when I am strict about my diet. I have increased my amount of dry stretching, do uddiyana bandha and thoracic stretching as part of my yoga practice several days a week. I am currently going through PFI training and had noticed they have a lot of info about safety which I'm eager to get more into for this reason. I have not tried reverse packing as I haven't had a solid idea of how exactly to perform it.
 

Nathan Vinski

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@OCeanDeepYoga

I've got two questions about somethings you said that might give good insight.

1) "I spit blood before the third deep(ish) dive".

Are you continuing your sessions, or doing more dives, AFTER you suffer a squeeze. Or do you stop your sessions immediately after squeezing?

2) "Just as soon as a I feel like I'm healthy and I go for a deeper dive I squeeze"

Are you taking the time to build back up to the depths you're having issues with? For example, let's say you squeezed at 35m. You take a few weeks off, do some stretching, get some shallow hangs in, and then what? Do you go straight to 35 again, or do you build back up with multiple (by multiple I mean at least 20) reps in the high 20s, then low 30s before attempting another 35?

--

Finally, what proportion of this diving is done on the line vs off the line? Are you only squeezing on spearfishing dives, or on line dives as well?
 

cdavis

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Reverse pack negatives, Nathan can probably give a better description, but what I do: Full forced exhale, all the way out, then use your throat to pull air out of the lungs (reverse packing) Go as far as you can and hold. You need to be very careful with reverse packing. You can squeeze yourself right on the couch. For starters, only go as deep as is comfortable and build up slowly (over weeks/months). I find that it adapts the lungs to negative pressure and reduces the tendency to squeeze.
 

Andrew the fish

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accidentally bumped into this thread. Good discussion here. I would second cdavis's comment on forceful exhales, those are good. Not only for fending off squeeses but also accidentally helps to increase your bottom times. I have another trick, very similar in nature, that I use when I plan on going deep. It is FRC dives. I warm up on my spearfishing day with frc dive at realively shallow water, long before I even get to my spot. It should be deep enough and lungs should be empty enough so that you feel it at the bottom. Blood shift happens realatively slowly at first, so you kind of wake up this reflex ahead of a time.
 

cdavis

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Hi Andrew,

You hit on a good trick. Turns out, blood shift is cumulative over the course of a dive session. Increases the comfortable depth you can equalize to, decreases the possibility of squeeze, and seems to me to improve bottom time.
 

OCeanDeepYoga

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@OCeanDeepYoga

I've got two questions about somethings you said that might give good insight.

1) "I spit blood before the third deep(ish) dive".

Are you continuing your sessions, or doing more dives, AFTER you suffer a squeeze. Or do you stop your sessions immediately after squeezing?

2) "Just as soon as a I feel like I'm healthy and I go for a deeper dive I squeeze"

Are you taking the time to build back up to the depths you're having issues with? For example, let's say you squeezed at 35m. You take a few weeks off, do some stretching, get some shallow hangs in, and then what? Do you go straight to 35 again, or do you build back up with multiple (by multiple I mean at least 20) reps in the high 20s, then low 30s before attempting another 35?

--

Finally, what proportion of this diving is done on the line vs off the line? Are you only squeezing on spearfishing dives, or on line dives as well?

1) Before I knew better, I had kept diving once or twice, though just as a safety. I made some foolish newbie mistakes at the beginning of my freediving like suffering a squeeze (before I knew what one was) on the weekend during my YTT then continuing with 2 hour daily yoga practice which included lots of thoracic movement and strong movement of the diaphragm. I later learned what had happened to me and how best to recover. Due to my ignorance I did not recover properly at all, then re-squeezed in Bali (very small) a 3 weeks later. that was almost 2 years ago now though. I've since learned and now the second I see blood I pack it in.

2) Looking back on it, I raced to depth too quickly. I did re-approach at what I thought, at the time, was slow and gradual, paying extra attention to my body and trying to listen to the signals and stay conservative. However, I did not do it slow enough, apparently. I'm almost done with my PFI intermediate course and during that I learned the proper way to approach depth. Next time I'm in the water I'll repeat dives <30m no less than 20x before moving on. I appreciate your advice.
During my time off I maintain gentle stretching several days a week. The first day or two after the squeeze I will often just relax or meditate; nothing too physical at all. Then I'll resume with normal thoracic and neck stretches. After a week or so I'll start to add full/empty lung stretches.

Currently I'm away from the water for a month and a half visiting family. During my time out of the water I'm trying to focus mainly on relaxation, flexibility and my mental approach/mindset with visualization/affirmations. It's been over a month since the squeeze so now feel safe to practice full and empty lung stretches with gentle packing and reverse packing.

Again, I really appreciate the advice! I'm very grateful. Thank you.
 
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