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Thread: How to reduce ear pain when swimming far down?

  1. #1

    How to reduce ear pain when swimming far down?

    Okay so I know scuba divers equalize their ears as they go down to stop the ear drums from bursting and hurting. I'm trying to get to the bottom of a nine foot deep pool and when I get down there my ears start to get very painful. Anyway to reduce this?


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  2. #2
    Senior Member Pod of The South Aziara's Avatar
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    I know of two different methods (there may be others, I don't know). First is to pinch your nose with your fingers and GENTLY blow. There's also a hands-free method where you simply make a swallowing motion with your throat muscles. That one is a little harder, and it took me a while to get it right without sucking water up my nose, but once I got the hang of it, I like it much better because I don't have to pause in my swimming.
    Also known as Salina Tideglow

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    Moderator Pod of Cali Mermaid Wesley's Avatar
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    You should equalize about every three feet under the surface. 3, 6, 9, 12, etc. even in a pool without tanks. If you go all the way down and try at the bottom it is significantly harder. The 'swallowing' method is more convenient. You also should equalize on the way up to avoid pressure build up. two or three times on the way to the bottom should be fine, and maybe one or two on the way up since your ears tend to equalize easier on the way up. I was dumb at merfest and didn't equalize enough (read: almost at all) and I ended up hurting my eardrum a bit. It was popping over and over again for a few days and hurt just enough to be annoying. (Also had to do with planes) For the swallowing method I dont actually swallow, I just raise my soft palate, which is part of the swallowing reflex. If you can isolate that movement it will be very easy for you.

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    Senior Member Chesapeake Pod Fun123joker's Avatar
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    i always try the equalizing method but i cant seem to do it right. do you blow from your mouth or nose?


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    Moderator Pod of Cali Mermaid Wesley's Avatar
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    nose.

  6. #6
    On January 7th Mermaid Hannah put on her facebook a link to a page talking about how to equalize the pressure. I found the article to be very informative. Here is the article she linked to: http://scubadiverlife.com/2015/01/02...earing-easier/

    Even if you don't have issues with clearing your ears (I haven't had that problem yet) I think it is good to read and copy just incase someday you are swimming deep and start to feel uncomfortable.
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  7. #7
    I personally use the swallowing method. I can tell you that my ears used to hurt really bad when I first started and now it's not an issue at all. The more you practice the easier it will be.


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  8. #8
    Are you by chance an ear rumbler? Some people can voluntarily flex their tensor tympani muscle, which is a muscle in the ear that helps to regulate pressure. You can feel it when you yawn. I just rumble for a second or two when I get to depth and that helps my ears regulate (though it's a lot harder to do underwater).

  9. #9
    Another little tip: if you're doing a tuck dive from the surface, you can actually get down five feet or more very rapidly, which means that you might be getting down quicker than you can equalize, causing pain. A tip that my freediving instructor taught me was to "pre-equalize" or prepare your ears by equalizing on the surface BEFORE going under so that your ears are ready and even a little full of air so that initial descent isn't too shocking. Just pinch your nose and blow gently like you're blowing your nose until you feel a tiny clicking in your ears (that's called the valsalva). There's another technique called the frenzel which is trickier and involves moving your tongue across your soft palate but doesn't require you to waste air since it uses air in your mouth and doesn't pull it from your lungs.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Pod of The South Aziara's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lily View Post
    Are you by chance an ear rumbler? Some people can voluntarily flex their tensor tympani muscle, which is a muscle in the ear that helps to regulate pressure. You can feel it when you yawn. I just rumble for a second or two when I get to depth and that helps my ears regulate (though it's a lot harder to do underwater).
    Huh... so is that what I'm doing when I 'almost' swallow and my ears equalize?
    Also known as Salina Tideglow

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Aziara View Post
    Huh... so is that what I'm doing when I 'almost' swallow and my ears equalize?
    I never thought of it quite that way, but likely yes! Does it sound like crashing waves, or maybe an earthquake?


  12. #12
    Equalizing is the answer indeed for going underwater and not have painful ears.

    Best methods are:

    -) Valsalva: pinch your nose and try to breathe out through it. You will/must feel your stomach muscles working here!
    -) Frenzel: pinch your nose and try to say the letter "K", but in your throat with a closed epiglottis.

    These two methods apply pressure on your eardrums from the inside (swallowing doesn't really do that), which is appropriate for countering the outward pressure on them from the water. If it works (no matter what method you use), you should feel/hear your ears "pop"...(muffled kind of sound/feeling).

    Frenzel seems the best way to. If you are going deep, it's the only way to go, als Valsalva doesn't work anymore (because of the water pressure, you can't get any air into your mouth/nose anymore). Also, Frenzel doesn't use your stomach muscles so you conserve oxygen!

    The downside of Frenzel: I seem to be able to do it naturally (I have never learned it!), and I find it easy. Lots of people find it difficult.

    Here are a couple of links to learn both methods (and others): (be patient, stay calm and keep practicing - also on dry land, remember: you have to feel your ears "pop"!)
    (But don't overdo it either, take breaks too.)

    http://www.scubadiving.com/training/...ize-every-time (Valsalva, Frenzel and other methods)
    http://liquivision.com/docs/Frenzel_...lish_r2006.pdf (Mainly Frenzel, very technical explanation)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BeL5dI5Hkg8 (VERY good video on Frenzel - if you have the time: watch and learn, it's worth the time!)

    One other thing it's a good idea to equalize as soon as you go under. You may (even) equalize before you are diving under!
    And as others said: do it regularly: every meter (every 3 feet)!

    Hope this contributes to the answers here.
    Good luck!

  13. #13
    Senior Member Pod of The South Aziara's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lily View Post
    I never thought of it quite that way, but likely yes! Does it sound like crashing waves, or maybe an earthquake?

    Sorta... But with more of a crackle on top of the rumbley noise.
    Also known as Salina Tideglow

  14. #14
    Senior Member Pod of Oceania Mermaid Jaffa's Avatar
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    My first few times at swimming, I had ear pain at 1.2 m depth. After more swims, I don't have anymore pain at that depth, though my local pool is only 2.08 m at the deepest end.
    Formerly known as ireneho

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Mermaid Wesley View Post
    You should equalize about every three feet under the surface. 3, 6, 9, 12, etc.
    I tend to equalize every 7 ft/2 m or so, but that's close to the limit of when my ears start hurting. Do you find more frequent equalizing works better in the long run, Wesley?

  16. #16
    Equalizing frequently (every meter or every 3 feet while going down) DOES help. Not only in the long run, but also right here and now!
    Do learn Frenzel. You'll never get back to anything else. It's the best method. (See the links I posted.)

  17. #17
    Senior Member Euro Pod Echidna's Avatar
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    I'm an ear rumbler (never knew that was a thing).
    I've never used any of the normal equalization techniques, I can clear my ears just by moving muscles and it's often automatic, so I don't even have to think about it.

    On a normal session, I make 20-30 dives to a depth of 5 metres, and I only have to equalize at all if I go down very fast or if I have problems with my ears due to mucus or something.
    I'm using plugs though, definitely recommend them.

  18. #18
    Are your plugs vented or are they solid, Echidna?

  19. #19
    Senior Member Euro Pod Echidna's Avatar
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    Vented of course!
    I thought that went without saying. (otherwise, ouch!)

  20. #20
    Senior Member Pod of Texas
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    Swimmer's ear is a thing that everyone in my family seems to get easily...maybe it's because my sisters and I were all preemies? But I got a pair of vented plugs to help with that too...And they're useful for when you're terrified of getting bugs in your ears.
    It has been established. I. Am. A. Feesh. And sometimes a Shaymin.

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