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Question Too early contractions (5m) in the ocean?

Waterbear

New Member
Nov 4, 2020
7
0
1
32
Vancouver, BC
Hi fam!

I am hitting a wall: Every time I dive in the ocean I encounter contractions waaaay too early (~5-6m depth, after a few seconds). They are immediate and fast interval despite trying all types of breathe-up, relaxations, duck-dives, FIM or CWT, hangs...
In pool I can do 40m DNF/DYN without urge to breathe, and 60m quite relax with just a few contractions. In dry STA I can do 4min+ with contractions only starting around 2min ...so I am not sure what is going on. I'd expect to feel a slight urge to breathe around 35sec worst case scenario...not contractions so early.

I can go down to -15m without much trouble technique-wise: duck-dive feels clean, frenzel feels good, finning is not too intense, head straight. But I have to pass through all these contractions that feel quite unpleasant for ~90% of the dive.

I suspect it could be psychological: the ocean here is very cold and grey...not super friendly. But a lot of other beginners I dive with have no issues of this type...and even if I feel sometimes a bit challenged in the ocean, I'm not sure that explains a drop of 95% in pre-contractions time. Maybe it's the vertical position...honestly I have no idea.

I'm not sure what to do about it. Chill hangs do not seem working, and my constant improvements in EQ, DNF/DYN seem having no effect on this. It's regular as clockwork. The frustration kinda ruins every dive by now and I am worried I'm just banging my head on the wall and building up more bad association with open waters.

Any idea on what is going on? If so, any idea on how to prevent this?

Thank you :)
 

Nathan Vinski

Well-Known Member
Apr 19, 2015
259
156
58
25
Canada
Hi fam!

I am hitting a wall: Every time I dive in the ocean I encounter contractions waaaay too early (~5-6m depth, after a few seconds). They are immediate and fast interval despite trying all types of breathe-up, relaxations, duck-dives, FIM or CWT, hangs...
In pool I can do 40m DNF/DYN without urge to breathe, and 60m quite relax with just a few contractions. In dry STA I can do 4min+ with contractions only starting around 2min ...so I am not sure what is going on. I'd expect to feel a slight urge to breathe around 35sec worst case scenario...not contractions so early.

I can go down to -15m without much trouble technique-wise: duck-dive feels clean, frenzel feels good, finning is not too intense, head straight. But I have to pass through all these contractions that feel quite unpleasant for ~90% of the dive.

I suspect it could be psychological: the ocean here is very cold and grey...not super friendly. But a lot of other beginners I dive with have no issues of this type...and even if I feel sometimes a bit challenged in the ocean, I'm not sure that explains a drop of 95% in pre-contractions time. Maybe it's the vertical position...honestly I have no idea.

I'm not sure what to do about it. Chill hangs do not seem working, and my constant improvements in EQ, DNF/DYN seem having no effect on this. It's regular as clockwork. The frustration kinda ruins every dive by now and I am worried I'm just banging my head on the wall and building up more bad association with open waters.

Any idea on what is going on? If so, any idea on how to prevent this?

Thank you :)
I'd need to see your diving to be sure, but typically contractions on the descent (you really shouldn't have any descent contractions to any depth) are caused by 1 or more of 4 common things..

Poor EQ technique: using too much force with any kind of EQ will create lots of tension. Especially valsalva, which should be avoided as it's extremely forceful.

Shifting too much air: again part of EQ, typically you need to have some air in the mouth to EQ. If you're moving this air from lungs to mouth with too much force or in a very sloppy way, if can trigger contractions.

Full Vs empty lungs training.. DYN and STA on full lungs won't build comfort at depth.. you need to practice relaxing with 1/2 to fully empty lungs.. do no contractions STA and easy DYN on (in your case diving quite shallow) 1/2 lungs.. probably you're very tense once your compressed.. you need to work on this without the stress of actual depth.

Mental fear of depth: In your case 5m is very shallow for this to be fear related.. is suspect it's possible but more likely a technical issue (1-3) that I mentioned.

Id suggest finding a good instructor who can really coach and develop your Frenzel Equalization, making sure it's as passive as possible, and practice relaxed (no contractions) STA on 1/2 lungs (passive exhale). Work in improving your no contractions time on 1/2 lung static.

--

FYI, there's hope.. for 3 years of diving in Montreal I had contractions starting at about 10m on the way down..

Just a few months ago, I did 90m with contractions starting at 30m.. on the way up!
 

Waterbear

New Member
Nov 4, 2020
7
0
1
32
Vancouver, BC
I'd need to see your diving to be sure, but typically contractions on the descent (you really shouldn't have any descent contractions to any depth) are caused by 1 or more of 4 common things..

Poor EQ technique: using too much force with any kind of EQ will create lots of tension. Especially valsalva, which should be avoided as it's extremely forceful.

Shifting too much air: again part of EQ, typically you need to have some air in the mouth to EQ. If you're moving this air from lungs to mouth with too much force or in a very sloppy way, if can trigger contractions.

Full Vs empty lungs training.. DYN and STA on full lungs won't build comfort at depth.. you need to practice relaxing with 1/2 to fully empty lungs.. do no contractions STA and easy DYN on (in your case diving quite shallow) 1/2 lungs.. probably you're very tense once your compressed.. you need to work on this without the stress of actual depth.

Mental fear of depth: In your case 5m is very shallow for this to be fear related.. is suspect it's possible but more likely a technical issue (1-3) that I mentioned.

Id suggest finding a good instructor who can really coach and develop your Frenzel Equalization, making sure it's as passive as possible, and practice relaxed (no contractions) STA on 1/2 lungs (passive exhale). Work in improving your no contractions time on 1/2 lung static.

--

FYI, there's hope.. for 3 years of diving in Montreal I had contractions starting at about 10m on the way down..

Just a few months ago, I did 90m with contractions starting at 30m.. on the way up!
Thank you for such detailed response!

I think you might be right on some points:

- I believe I am doing proper frenzel (I can equalize at RV without engaging my core) but might push too much on it or holding it for too long. My refill is also a bit sloppy, I am working on it trying to keep it short and quiet.

- Most of my training has indeed be on full lungs: I perceived FRC/RV as more useful for people experiencing greater pressure (25m+) but I will experiment with it then!

Thank you again, I will test all of that :) You indeed give me hope!
 

Nathan Vinski

Well-Known Member
Apr 19, 2015
259
156
58
25
Canada
Thank you for such detailed response!

I think you might be right on some points:

- I believe I am doing proper frenzel (I can equalize at RV without engaging my core) but might push too much on it or holding it for too long. My refill is also a bit sloppy, I am working on it trying to keep it short and quiet.

- Most of my training has indeed be on full lungs: I perceived FRC/RV as more useful for people experiencing greater pressure (25m+) but I will experiment with it then!

Thank you again, I will test all of that :) You indeed give me hope!
Just two points..

There should be no active refill of the mouth.. this needs to be coached.. (I'm working with a girl right now who always had contractions on the way down.. she does hands free but also did an active refill.. we removed the active refil and her contractions went away)..

And yeah.. for divers in the +40s the FRC/RV dives would be done in depth.. for you, or anyone in the 0-30/40 range, I'd reccomend doing them dry, just to replicate the sensation of holding the breath without being completely full..

So empty or half lungs in depth is advanced.. empty or half lungs dry STA can be used by beginners to get comfortable in shallow depths..
 
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Waterbear

New Member
Nov 4, 2020
7
0
1
32
Vancouver, BC
Just two points..

There should be no active refill of the mouth.. this needs to be coached.. (I'm working with a girl right now who always had contractions on the way down.. she does hands free but also did an active refill.. we removed the active refil and her contractions went away)..

And yeah.. for divers in the +40s the FRC/RV dives would be done in depth.. for you, or anyone in the 0-30/40 range, I'd reccomend doing them dry, just to replicate the sensation of holding the breath without being completely full..

So empty or half lungs in depth is advanced.. empty or half lungs dry STA can be used by beginners to get comfortable in shallow depths..
Ok I will try to work on that! Thank you for the precision.

Unfortunately due to the pandemic I am not sure if I can find a coach available.
 

Waterbear

New Member
Nov 4, 2020
7
0
1
32
Vancouver, BC
I have been training getting used to RV/FRC dry for the last few weeks, and I feel more relax. But noticed that I would sometimes have sore throat and a slight pressure in the chest afterward. Are these common symptoms?
 

Nathan Vinski

Well-Known Member
Apr 19, 2015
259
156
58
25
Canada
I have been training getting used to RV/FRC dry for the last few weeks, and I feel more relax. But noticed that I would sometimes have sore throat and a slight pressure in the chest afterward. Are these common symptoms?
They are possible symptoms..

Sore throat could be from holding your glottis shut with too much effort (it should be very gentle).. this is something you can play around with to find the minimum effort required to hold the breath (exhale or inhale).

or having big contractions (you shouldn't really be having any, especially not big ones, on this exercise.

--

Tight chest can actually be some bloodshift.. it can happen even on dry STA when doing it on exhale.. as long as it goes away after a bit and no urge to cough then it's just a part of getting used to these lower lung volumes
 

Waterbear

New Member
Nov 4, 2020
7
0
1
32
Vancouver, BC
They are possible symptoms..

Sore throat could be from holding your glottis shut with too much effort (it should be very gentle).. this is something you can play around with to find the minimum effort required to hold the breath (exhale or inhale).

or having big contractions (you shouldn't really be having any, especially not big ones, on this exercise.

--

Tight chest can actually be some bloodshift.. it can happen even on dry STA when doing it on exhale.. as long as it goes away after a bit and no urge to cough then it's just a part of getting used to these lower lung volumes
Thank you for the precisions!

Yes I avoid getting contractions. I stop when I feel the first one coming, or shortly after it. When I do dry FRC I definitely feel the vacuum squeezing slightly my throat, even tucked in, so I might try to focus on RV for a bit first.

The tight lungs stop mostly after 2-3h max.
 

Nathan Vinski

Well-Known Member
Apr 19, 2015
259
156
58
25
Canada
Thank you for the precisions!

Yes I avoid getting contractions. I stop when I feel the first one coming, or shortly after it. When I do dry FRC I definitely feel the vacuum squeezing slightly my throat, even tucked in, so I might try to focus on RV for a bit first.

The tight lungs stop mostly after 2-3h max.
So that's good insight for me..

If you feel a vacuume on FRC it means you're extremely tense when holding at that lung volume. Somehow you're more relaxed at RV..

FRC (passive relaxed neutral diaphragm) should be the most comfortable with the least internal (±) pressure

Since you're developing tension here it's shows it's what you need to practice most.

It also explains why you're getting contractions at the depths you are.. 5-15m are the depths that your lungs would be at about FRC.. apparently you're very tense in this particular lung volume range.

I'd suggest approaching it like a technique/skill..

Do like 20x 10-15 seconds FRC holds, instead of trying to work the breath hold try to completely limit the tension in your abs, ribs, diaphragm, and throat.

Play around with PURPOSELY creating tension in those areas, and you'll hopefully figure out where youre making it by accident, and then how to stop it..

Remember, since FRC is a passive lung volume is should require almost 0 effort to keep the air in. On RV I'd expect a vacuume feeling, but FRC shouldn't have it..
 
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