Why Can’t I Equalize?

What if I told you that it may not always be your fault if you can’t equalize? And it may not even be your instructor’s fault for not being able to teach you how to equalize? And it’s not about trying harder?

Some of you have tried so hard. You practice the Frenzel equalization every day. You hang inverted over your bed and in the swimming pool to simulate an incline and do your practice. You watched every video on YouTube that teaches equalization. Every opportunity you have, you ask help for it. But then, you still cannot equalize. Why is this so?

What if I told you that not all heads and mouths and tongues are equal? And there are some bodies that are more adapted to pick up equalization faster than others? And perhaps yours has has impediments that hinder the movements of equalization?

I myself went through a particularly long journey to learn how to equalize. I started freediving in May 2017 and found out that I could not Frenzel equalize. It somehow just did not work despite how much I practiced dried and in the water. As a result, I self-taught myself handsfree equalization, which required less muscle movement than the Frenzel equalization. I continued in my quest to learn how to Frenzel and over a period of five years, not only did I learned how to Frenzel, I also started coaching beginners. But most importantly to me, I learned about different structural issues of the mouth, head and neck and how they can hinder the act of equalization.

Let me give you an example: Take a moment to notice where is your resting tongue position? Where is it most comfortable in your mouth? Is it lying flat at the bottom, retracted back, or against the roof of the mouth?

Some people have what is known as a “tongue-tie” (ankyloglossia), a condition whereby the tongue has restricted movement and is tethered to the floor of the mouth. Tongue-ties come in different grades and different parts of the tongue can be restricted. Some people have the whole tongue restricted, others have only the back part of the tongue restricted. Naturally, these people are going to go through a longer journey in learning how to Frenzel. They will first need to build upon the strength and flexibility to raise the tongue into a position that already comes naturally to others who have no such issues.

Others may clench their teeth when they are under stress. This is a compensatory mechanism that many are not aware of. However, this can affect your ability to equalize. A jaw under tension utilizes muscles that would otherwise be at rest and muscles that would otherwise be needed for the equalization maneuver. It is the reason why for a successful equalization, it is so important to be relaxed, and a freediving instructor needs to know how to create the conditions that allow their students to feel relax. There are ways to gain awareness of these muscles so that you can learn to relax them and avail your muscles for equalization.

After having my own troubles with equalization and taking years to learn and refine my own techniques, learning face massage in Chiang Mai, taking a course of myofunctional therapy, and also becoming a freediving instructor with Apnea Total, I have noticed a lack in equalization education meant for the individual. Equalization education tends to assume that everyone has the same anatomy and everyone who is taught correctly and practices hard enough will get it. But no two mouths and no two skulls are the same. If you want to help an individual who is stuck at learning equalization, you will need to look at the specific anatomy and structural issues of that individual.

I have created a course and developed a curriculum that will do exactly that – help individuals self-diagnose specific issues in their orofacial anatomy and then provide exercises and teach massages that can target these specific issues that they may have to increase their chances at equalization success. This course is now available here: https://equalizationgym.com/courses/equalization-gym/.

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