SIG Sauer Academy

SCUBAPRO Sunday – Clearing Your Ears

The inability to clear ears not is one of main reasondivers cant start a diver or finish it if they cannot clear at the start. It is easy to clear/equalize your ears almost all the time. Even the best of divers can have trouble clearing on a dive. But with a few of these technic’s I hope that you won’t have to end a dive because of ear problems. Some of these also work for skydiving or flying. It is always a good practice to try and clear your ears before you even get into the water. At your dive brief, the Dive Supervisor should ask everyone if they canclear their ears. 


This is the most common way to equalize. I am sure you learned it when you first started to swim. This method teaches you to pinch your nose so that no air can pass through your nostrils, and then gently “blow” your nose. This forces air into your inner ear space, equalizing the pressure within to the outside pressure often with an audible popping or clicking sound. The key to this is the word “gently.” Don’t blow your eardrums out before you dive.


To perform this maneuver, you thrust your jaw forward.  This slight shift in your natural anatomy will cause the Eustachian Tube to straighten and open, thus allowing gases to travel in the direction of higher pressure to lower pressure until full equilibration occurs.

Voluntary tubal opening

Try yawning with your mouth closed by contracting the muscles in the back of the roof of your mouth and throat while pushing your jaw forward and down. Tensing and stretching the muscles pulls the eustachian tubes open.


The Toynbee technique of clearing your ears is to pinch your nose and try to swallow. This tenses the muscles in the throat and soft palate to pull the tubes open, while your tongue compresses air against them. This results in a decreased pressure against the middle ear and Eustachian Tube, which will open in response.


This is a combination of Valsalva and Toynbee. Pinch your nose and then blow against your closed nose while swallowing at the same time.

If your ears are particularly stubborn while trying the equalizing methods tilt your head from side to side or look up towards the surface. It helps stretch the folds surrounding the eustachian tubes making it easier to open them.


First, it is not recommended to take anything before you dive. If you have to dive and do take a decongestant, make sure it will last for the duration of the dive.

Good Luck and I hope this helps.


5 Responses to “SCUBAPRO Sunday – Clearing Your Ears”

  1. Dellis says:

    I thought it was just me…and the whiskey

  2. Asinine Name says:

    Yoda wrote it.

  3. Keith says:

    Clearing your ears, while important, isn’t the only thing you need. You need clear sinuses as well. Any head congestion and you shouldn’t dive or you’ll likely have a squeeze. Also, decongestants can help with sinuses, but not as much for the eustachion tubes.

  4. Stu says:

    A good article this is.

  5. JC says:

    The description of the frenzel technique is incorrect. The frwnzel technique utilized much more of the ENT anatomy and when done correctly is extremely effective. Take some time and research the actual frenzel technique if you need help clearing ears on a dive.