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.