How Do I Decompress While Freediving?

August 18, 2022 3 min read

One of the best ways to avoid decompression sickness while freediving is by planning your dives conservatively. The reason for this is that there are no validated decompression algorithms available to freedivers. However, with conservative planning and good mixed gas training, it is possible to prevent decompression sickness. The most common forms of freediving require the use of mixed gas. Listed below are some precautions to follow.


There is a lack of data in the freediving community regarding the symptoms of DCS, which is a potentially life-threatening condition. It is unclear how the body reacts to decompression during breath-hold diving, but there are certain factors to consider. One of these factors is the repetitive nature of the activity, which may lead to the creation of compressed bubbles that pass from venous blood to arterial blood via normal flow pathways.

First, the symptoms of decompression sickness include a localized deep pain. This pain may be sharp or dull. Active and passive movement of the affected joint aggravates the pain. Nevertheless, bending the affected joint can help reduce the pain. A person may also experience altered sensations, such as tingling or increased sensitivity. Once symptoms are recognized, the diver should seek medical assistance immediately. The symptoms of decompression sickness vary according to severity and location.

Inefficient decompression can cause complications, including pulmonary edema, heart failure, and dizziness. A properly managed decompression sequence requires the diver to ascend rapidly, maintain an adequate oxygen partial pressure, and avoid gas changes that could result in counterdiffusion bubble formation. It is important to follow a safe decompression schedule, as it can be very complicated. It must also account for factors such as the diver's workload and the conditions they will encounter during the dive.

Prevention of Decompression Sickness

One of the first steps in preventing decompression sickness when freediving is making sure you are well rested before your session. Avoid strenuous exercise the day before, and limit alcohol consumption. Also, drink at least a liter of water before, during, and after your session. While freediving is extremely dehydrating, it can also lead to DCS. Whenever your body experiences a decrease in pressure, gas bubbles may form. These bubbles produce symptoms of decompression sickness. But not all bubbles can lead to DCS. This is because the quantity of gas in a liquid is determined by Henry's Law, which describes the volume of gas dissolved in the fluid at any given time.

In a severe case, decompression sickness can lead to neurological symptoms or even death. A physical bubble formed during the dive can damage the nerves in your spinal cord. This can cause numbness, tingling, and weakness. The pain may also be severe and accompanies weakness and inability to move. If the gas is trapped within the body, you may also experience a rash, or pain in your arms or legs. In addition to these symptoms, you may also experience extreme fatigue or difficulty breathing.

Taking precautions while freediving is essential to avoiding the symptoms of decompression sickness. Excess nitrogen stays in the body tissues for at least 12 hours after a dive. Rapid changes in atmospheric pressure can also cause the resulting physical bubbles to form in tissues. The more rapid a change in atmospheric pressure occurs, the higher the chance of decompression sickness. For this reason, it is important to wait 12 hours before you fly, duck dive, or do any activity involving flying, since these actions will expose you to lower atmospheric pressure.

Prevention of Narcosis While Freediving

Nitrogen narcosis is a serious problem for freedivers. Although the symptoms of this ailment disappear within a few minutes of ascent, it is important to recognize them as soon as they start. If the symptoms persist for more than a few minutes, it's time to abort the dive and return to shallower water. The underlying cause of narcosis is unknown, but there are several precautions you should take.

One of the best ways to prevent nitrogen narcosis is to limit your diving depth. Experts recommend that you only freedive to thirty to 50 meters. Once you've reached this depth, use a different gas mixture. Helium or argon are common substitutes for oxygen in the diving community. If you feel narcosis symptoms during your dive, stop diving and seek medical treatment as soon as possible.

Another precaution to prevent narcosis while freediver is to wear a mask that allows you to see and hear clearly. Wearing goggles can reduce the risk of nitrogen narcosis. However, nitrox is not a viable option for those who are not licensed to use this type of mixed gas. You will need to have a license to use nitrox and oxygen in your dive, as it can cause narcosis.

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