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Injured? How Crying Can Help the Recovery Process

I've been on a crying jag since I sprained my ankle for the third time. It kills me that I can't dance my favorite roles. I'm also disgusted with myself for being a crybaby.

—Maggy, Philadelphia, PA


You're being too hard on yourself. Crying is a natural, healthy response to sadness and frustration, according to neuroscientist Dr. William Frey II, who's studied the subject for more than 20 years. Why is crying good for you? Among its benefits, it reduces levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, and improves your mood by lowering your levels of manganese, a mineral associated with anxiety, irritability and aggression. When you don't judge your tears, it can be a healing experience. (However, sad feelings that continue for two or more weeks may be a sign of a different problem—depression, which can benefit from psychotherapy.)

While your tears are likely nothing to worry about, that's not to say that you should be complacent about a third or, heaven forbid, a fourth ankle sprain. These can be preventable with sufficient rehabilitation! A physical therapist can give you exercises to strengthen the peroneal tendons, which protect the ankle, as the underlying ligaments often get stretched out after a sprain.

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Studio shots by Alinne Volpato

Jovani Furlan's Open-Hearted Dancing—And Personality—Lights Up New York City Ballet

Something magical happens when Jovani Furlan smiles at another dancer onstage. Whether it's a warm acknowledgment between sections of Jerome Robbins' Dances at a Gathering or an infectious grin delivered in the midst of a puzzle box of a sequence in Justin Peck's Everywhere We Go, whoever is on the receiving end brightens.

"I could stare at him forever," says New York City Ballet principal Megan Fairchild. "He's just that kind of open spirit. He's not judging anything. It's like he's looking at you with his arms wide open and a big smile—even if he's not smiling, that's the energy he's giving you."

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