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Left ankle fears - psychological


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Years ago I broke my left ankle, then 3 years ago sprained it while dancing en pointe. Now I have this phobia of working on my left foot for things like pirouettes, releves, temp lie.


Our concert performance has a lot of left stuff and i only have 4 weeks to get over this fear.

Has any one else been in a similar situation? how did you sort it out?


I am fearful I guess of hurting my ankle again so I'm tentative with it, and that just doesn't work. It's not that the strength isn't there, or that I am incapable of the work, I just cant convince my brain that I'm not going to releve up and roll off and come crashing to the ground.

I feel so silly. Even seeing what I'm writing makes me annoyed at myself.

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I wish I had a great answer for you, but I don't. If it makes you feel any better, I tore a ligament in my left ankle when I was 15, which was the major contributing factor for me stopping dancing. Now that I've just started pointe work again, I'm a little freaked out about doing stuff on that foot too. The strength is fine (actually, my feet and ankles are REALLY strong, considering) but I've still got that fear of it collapsing on me.


If I come up with any great idea of how to get over the fear, I'll let you know. Right now, I'm just really focusing on being properly placed and pulled up out of the shoe and not thinking about the rest. It seems like so much of ballet is a mind game. I hope it works out for you!

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The obvious thing is to simply stop thinking about it. But of course, that’s impossible for most of us to do. Actively trying not to think about something generally results in our focusing even stronger on what we are trying not to focus on.


You might try to diffuse the thinking by worrying about something else, perhaps the music or some other step or some aspect of technique that is important in other parts of your dance. I don’t think it matters what it is as long as it involves something important that doesn’t involve your left ankle so much. I emphasize the word important as the strength of your new point of concentration has to be stronger than your mini phobia. Distracting yourself is about the only thing I think you can do in the short run.


In the long run, time will work its magic. Three years is quite a long time ago and from strictly a rational point of view a simple sprain is completely healed within a few weeks, so there is no structural problem. As you do more with your left foot you will have many successes which should eliminate the mini phobia.

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I have in the last two nights managed to not freak my self out too much when doing pose turns and pose arabesque on the left. Just gotta work my way up to 'jumping' on that foot.

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  • 2 weeks later...

A quick update, I checked with my physio and podiatrist to make sure there wasn't in fact any physiological reason why i was having troubles and apart from a slightly larger range of movement in one direction than the other and different to my right foot the physio is convinced theres nothing wrong. So she strapped it for me anyway and it actually helped. The podiatrist said thats because the physical feeling of the tape gives your brain a boundary to not roll the ankle, (or something to that effect - it is nearly 3am)


Anyway the culmination of this all is that I'm managing releves and single pirouettes on the left, They arent super neat but get better with every class.

I have taken on board your suggestions and rather than focus on my left leg, concentrating on lifting my right leg to correct retire and keeping my shoulders down and my core engaged. That's all helping too.


I also had a massage today, because the front of my calf along the shin was very tight and the tendons around the back of my heel as well. They feel much better for being released, as brutal as the masseur was. (a dancer herself, and only about 4 foot tall, and so very slight... but seriously i wouldnt mess with her cos she's tough)

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