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Old 12-30-04, 02:40 PM  
Loretta S.
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I was watching the World's Strongest Man competition on ESPN on Christmas (I admit it, I love the crazy feats of strength!). These guys are like 6'2" 330lbs and what most people would call huge and muscle-bound. One of the guys did a celebration dance after completing the Atlas Stones (lifting and carrying 200-300 lb stones and placing them on top of different height pillars). His dance included doing the splits in both directions. I would say that proves the converse that strength doesn't exclude flexibility. Yowza!
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Old 12-30-04, 02:51 PM  
herya
 
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Pratima, the type of crunch you describe engages my lower abs quit a lot (good exercise!), but it doesn't give me this quad pain. It seems that my quads protest whenever I need to pull up my upper body towards raised straight legs (like in teasers) or whenever I need to hold (not kick up) my straight leg in front. What's funny is that there are no problems at all with Pilates "double leg stretch", the exercise when we need to lower straight legs lying on the back and then pull them up again using lower abs. Funny indeed, I need to observe what's giving me cramps and what not and how do the hip flexors exercises influence it!

As for flexibility and strongmen, for some reason guys seem to be able to achieve splits more easily than girls (grr), or at least that's what I observe. I've met at least three guys who could do all three splits without any training! For girls the box split seems to be the hardest one even if they find front splits easy.
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Old 12-30-04, 03:21 PM  
Pratima
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herya, I'm not sure which version of the crunch you did, but I find if I don't use my arms (so I'm completely balance on my butt) and pull my legs in while trying to keep my back as straight as possible, it engages hip flexors more.

Tony Horton does an exercise like this in P90X Ab Ripper. My hip flexors were sore for a week!
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Old 12-30-04, 03:24 PM  
herya
 
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You're right, it works better this way (my cat is watching me with disgust as I try different kinds of crunches and teasers with green clay mask on my face) :-D
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Old 12-30-04, 09:31 PM  
Raevynn
 
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Abs and hip flexors tend to work in concert to lift the leg in a front extension, although it's the hip flexors and quads that actually do the lifting, with abs helping.

You definitely need core strength to direct anything in dance (let's just edit that to "....to direct anything."), so it's no wonder your Irish instructors were drilling you to build up your abs. Ab strength is the sine qua nihil of all movement.

And with regard to strength vs. flexibility, it is true that people who concentrate only on strength and do no stretching, tend to be less flexible; but this does not mean that the converse is necessarily true--that greater flexibility means less strength. The key is to build strength and flexibility in concert. If you are very strong, then you also should work to be flexible so that the muscle complementary to the muscle you're working can stretch far enough to work the working muscle through its fullest range of motion.

Often when people do teasers or similar exercises, they tend to "grip" with the thighs and hip flexors to "help" the movement. This actually is a waste of energy! It sounds to me, though, like your hip flexors need to be strengthened a bit. The flexors tend to be pretty weak relative to the rest of the body, although exercises like cycling and step, that bring the knee towards the chest repeatedly, strengthen the flexors quickly. In fact, many cyclists and steppers have very strong flexors! (Which also means they should be extra conscious of stretching them.)

Hope this helps.
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