Ear Equalization: Top Tips And Techniques For Freedivers

Mastering equalization not only helps you dive deeper but also makes your diving sessions safer, more comfortable and enjoyable. In this article, we are going to share some helpful tips for better ear equalization while freediving, so you can enjoy every dive.

Understanding Ear Equalization

Water pressure increases with depth, compressing air spaces in the body, including those in the ears. Equalization involves balancing the pressure in your middle ears with the water pressure as you dive deeper. It is essential for keeping your ears and sinuses healthy.

Common Equalization Techniques

There are a few techniques you can use to equalize the pressure in your ears. 

1. Valsalva Maneuver

The Valsalva maneuver, where divers hold their nose and gently blow, is straightforward and works well at shallower depths. It can become less effective as pressure increases. 

2. Frenzel Technique

The Frenzel technique is great for deeper dives and is preferred by many freedivers. It offers more control and less effort than the Valsalva. The Frenzel technique involves closing the glottis and pushing air into the Eustachian tubes using the tongue. 

3. Toynbee Maneuver

The Toynbee Maneuver, although effective, is not recommended for freediving due to its complexity and slow practice. This technique involves swallowing while the nose is pinched closed, helping to equalize by using the motion of swallowing to open the Eustachian tubes.

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4. Voluntary Tubal Opening

There is also the Voluntary Tubal Opening technique, which requires practice and experience to master. Eustachian tubes are opened using tiny muscles, which freedivers can learn to control to balance pressure differences. Voluntary tubal openings require regular practice to develop and can only be used as a reliable technique with enough experience.

Tips for Improving Ear Equalization

  • Pre-dive Preparation

Before you dive, it is a good idea to prepare your Eustachian tubes with some gentle ear equalization maneuvers. 

  • Practice Regularly.

Regularly practicing equalization techniques, even outside of diving, can strengthen the muscles involved, making equalization easier and more reflexive during dives.

  • Stay Relaxed.

Being relaxed while diving also helps immensely with equalization. Tension can tighten the muscles around the Eustachian tubes, making it harder to equalize.

  • Proper Positioning.

Your head and body positioning can affect how easily you can equalize, so make sure you keep in the correct alignment. Try to keep your chin tucked into your chest.

READ MORE: Freediving Gear: 9 Must-Have Items for Every Freediver

Safety and Health Considerations

If you encounter issues like difficulty equalizing one ear or experience pain despite equalizing, try adjusting your technique. Also ensure you are relaxed and well-prepared before diving deeper.

Always listen to your body – if it is not working, do not force it. Frequent difficulties with ear equalization could be a sign of underlying issues that may require attention from a specialist.

Effective equalization is crucial for a safe and enjoyable freediving experience. With practice and the right preparation, you can master this skill and enjoy deeper, safer dives.

If you want to work learn more about freediving training techniques, check out SSI’s advanced freediving courses below.

Advance Your Freediving Training with SSI




What should I do if I cannot equalize at a certain depth?


If you are struggling to equalize at a certain depth, it is best to return to the surface and try again with a more frequent equalization rhythm.


How can I prevent ear infections from frequent diving?


To prevent ear infections, keep your ears dry and clean and use alcohol-based ear drops post-dive. Also ensure any equipment you use is hygienic.


Is it safe to dive with a cold if I can still equalize?

Diving with a cold is risky as it can suddenly worsen your ability to equalize. It is best to dive when fully healthy.


What are the signs that I might be equalizing incorrectly?


Signs include pain, inability to clear ears, feeling of pressure or fullness in the ear, and in severe cases, vertigo.


How often should I practice equalization techniques on land?


It is best to practice ear equalization techniques daily