VASALVA TECHNIQUE – Antonio Valsalva recorded middle ear pressurization in the 1700s. This simple equalization method is named in his honor. To use it, pinch your nose, close your mouth, and blow air from your lungs into your head space to force air into your middle ear. This technique works to depths of up to 30 meters; at greater depths, you will not have enough air in your lungs to use it. You will practice Vasalva and built a better understanding of this technique’s limit.
FRENZEL TECHNIQUE – Named after a Luftwaffe commander who developed this technique for World War II bomber pilots. It is accomplished by closing off the vocal cords, pinching your nostrils, and attempting to make a “guh” or “k” sound. This will elevate the back of your tongue and lift the Adam’s Apple, which in turn pushes air up into your middle ear. The Frenzel Maneuver is effective at depths of up to 40-50 meters but the risk of lung squeezes is pretty high. After doing 6-10 equalizations your mouth will be empty and you will need to reverse pack to bring some air back up. Competitive Freedivers don’t use Frenzel since Mouthfill equalization has been discovered.
TOYNBEE TECHNIQUE – In the Toynbee Manuever, the muscles at the back of the throat pull the Eustachian tubes open. To accomplish this, pinch your nostrils and swallow. You will hear a clicking or crackling noise. Like the Frenzel maneuver, the Toynbee maneuver works at depths beyond 30 meters and can be repeated.
VTO TECHIQNUE – Also known as the BTV maneuver, the VTO maneuver involves “Voluntary Tubal Opening” (Beance Tubaire Volontaire in French). It is less reliable than other methods; in fact only about 30% of those who try it are able to do it. In this equalization method, the soft palate muscles are contracted while muscles in the upper throat are used to pull the Eustachian tubes open. Its mechanics are somewhat like yawning with one’s mouth closed.
WET TECHNIQUE – A maneuver in which water is allowed to flood the sinuses, the Wet Equalization Maneuver is chiefly used by professional freedivers. It is challenging as there is an increased risk of drowning, and it takes correct training and practice to accomplish it. Do not try this method without appropriate instruction.
During this course, equalization techniques may be combined and personalized, the important thing is to develop the ability to equalize comfortably and to know what will work best for you during freediving. If you scuba dive or freediver, you’ll find that you can use these same methods with reliability, increasing your safety and comfort throughout each and every dive.