Is Your Mask Equalization Efficient?
Mask equalization is often underestimated or completely disregarded, especially among novice and intermediate freedivers. Do you ever see bubbles coming out of your buddy’s mask as he is descending? And do you know why that’s not ideal?
Having a limited amount of air means that you need to optimize it in order to be diving deep and do that safely.
The more air you “lose” the less you will have for your ears and mask equalization, the earlier you will reach your failure depth. The failure depth is the place that you cannot equalize any further – unless you push more aggressively the air out of the lungs, which is one of the main causes of lung barotrauma and therefore something we want to avoid.
Usually this is not an issue until 25-30 meters, as most people will have more than enough air to reach this depth even if they lose some air. So you could argue that for all freedivers who don’t dive deeper than 30 meters it’s ok to bubble out air out on the descent. On the other hand, if this the way you learn and do it for a long time, it will be very hard to correct this bad habit when it had become part of your way of freediving.
For this reason you should start building good habits from the very beginning, and always under the guidance of an experienced instructor, who will see these mistakes very early and correct them before they become a habit.
See those streams of bubbles that these freedivers are leaving behind them?
Are you a “mask bubbler”?
Many freedivers who are don’t know that they are!
How to know find out then?
Next time you go freediving, as you descend concentrate on the sounds you hear around you, even better if you keep your eyes closed for better concentration. Do you hear any bubbly noise? If yes, that’s you exhaling too much air out of your mask nose pocket.
What to do then?
1-Instead of equalizing your mask at regular intervals, try to feel when your mask needs to be equalized, and only do it then (before the negative pressure build up is too strong of course).
2-However, don’t wait too long. If too much pressure builds up the mask will be pushed very hard against your face and you will have to push very hard to equalize it with the result that you exhale too much air and that part of it will have to go out of the mask.
3-When you are not equalizing your mask, do not release the nose pocket and keep your nostrils pinched.
4-Make sure you are using “Frenzel” equalization instead of “Valsalva”. This means you don’t have to push so hard when equalizing your ears and will also limit the amount of air that might escape through the nosepocket.
5-This is a bit more complicated to explain: when you want to do a mask equalization, don’t “blow or exhale air through your nose. Instead, do a simple Frenzel equalization while, at the same time, your fingers are not pinching the nose pocket too hard. This means that while you Frenzel, part of the air that you equalize will go into your middle ear, and part into the mask. This is the best possible way for mask equalization, and when you will decide to learn the “Mouthfill” technique, you will have a big advantage already.
Leave the bubbles to the scuba divers or for your fun freediving sessions!
Any questions about mask equalization? Feel free to Ask the Expert!
Photo credit Freedive International.