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A Simple Ear Equalization Test and Why EQ is necessary in Freediving?

Updated: Dec 5, 2021

When we talk about equalizing the ears, we are talking about equalizing the middle ear. These areas; the eardrum - the eustachian tube and the area at the back of the throat.

We experience the need to equalize this air space when we are on a plane that is taking off or landing or going down a very steep slope in a car. Many babies cry because they can't equalize ears on the plane, and by crying with their mouths open helps with equalization, or the breastfeeding because swallowing and jaw movements help.

On land, we can equalize the pressure difference by chewing, swallowing, yawning, or moving our jaws. These pressure changes are much less than the pressure difference experienced in freediving, especially in the first ten meters. If the ear equalization is not done properly, there is a high risk of experiencing increasing ear pain and damage to the eardrum and middle ear if diver continues to dive. For this reason, the diver has to learn an equalization technique that is more suitable for freediving.

Simple Test

Let's do an interesting test to see how easily your Eustachian tubes open. Let's test it by making a humming or wheezing sound with your mouth closed. Make a wheezing sound and at the same time push your jaw as far forward as possible. If the hum rises inside your head, on the left or right side, or both, your Eustachian tubes are open. If you are unable to push your jaw forward, make the same sound and try again by pushing the jaw forward and to the right and forward and to the left.

While this test works fine on land, I was having trouble with dives a long time ago because I was doing the wrong equalization. When I started to equalize my ears with the right technique, equalization problems just disappeared.

If you found the hum test difficult or did not succeed, This doesn't mean you can't equalize ;

It's time to learn an equalization technique that also works for you. The most common equalization technique used by scuba divers and freediving beginners is the Valsalva maneuver. You simply pinch your nose and in this position try to push air into your nose by creating pressure from your diaphragm. If you try this, you will usually feel pressure in your ears towards outside. Do this without forcing, as there is no pressure to balance on land, you may damage your eardrum by forcing it too much.

This technique works, but it's OK for upto certain depts. What you should aim to learn is the Frenzel maneuver, which uses the back of your tongue to create pressure at the back of your throat, you equalize your ears while keeping your epiglottis locked. Frenzel maneuver does not use the diaphragm and can be used to equalize at much deeper depths. To make Frenzel, you still need to pinch your nose.

Our aim in this article is not to teach you equalization techniques. With such short information, you can't expect to learn just by reading. Now you know there are different methods to equalize the ears. You can do a simple test and see if ears equalize easily.

You can learn different equalization methods to dive to different depths, and by learning this, you can have a very comfortable dives without ear equalization problems. Ear equalization techniques are an important part of freediving, and in our tutorials we teach you how it's done, practice and give hands-on tips.


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