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Monthly Archives: May 2011

  1. Aids Life Cycle Ride

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  2. Up Your Game for NBA Finals

    The NBA Finals begin tonight!  If watching the Heat and the Mavericks is putting you in the mood to improve your game, check out these basketball exercises that are sure to take your b-ball skills to the next level:

    Overview

    Lots of basketball players are in shape to play the game, but some players seem to have an extra gear that allows them to outrun a defense, out-jump a rebounder or outlast an opponent late in the game when fatigue sets in. If you want that extra level of conditioning that makes the difference on the court, be prepared to pay for it in sweat using some simple but effective exercises.

    Strong Legs and Quick Feet

    Running stadium stairs at a local stadium, track or gym has been a staple of athletic training for years, and for good reason. Running stadium stairs -- touching every step, and alternating between running forward, backward and laterally -- improves lower-body strength and builds endurance in the legs and lungs. Just as importantly, by touching every step of the stairs, an athlete simulates the small, quick steps that translate onto the basketball court, where he must chop his feet on defense or make sharp, quick cuts on offense.

    Get Strong with the Basketball

    Push-ups are another staple of strength and conditioning programs, but by adding a basketball into the exercise, basketball players can add a sport-specific element into this classic move. Instead of performing a normal push-up with both hands on the ground, place one hand on top of a basketball and perform sets of 10 to 15 reps, then repeat on the opposite side. By unbalancing the push-up position to one side with the added height of the basketball, the athlete is forced to use muscles on each side of the body independently -- great for developing strength in her weaker hand. The basketball push-up will also improve hand strength necessary for strong ball-handling, passing and catching.

    Jumping Higher and Faster

    While a lofty vertical leap is an asset to any basketball player, the game often requires players to jump high in the air multiple times, such as when players battle for rebounds, close out on shooters or shoot multiple shots. That's why players must have a second and third jump as strong as their first, which they can develop using backboard or net touches. To perform the exercise, stand under a backboard and set the backboard or net as your target, depending on ability. Jump off two feet with knees slightly bent and arms reaching vertically toward your target. Repeat this jump as many times as possible for one minute and count each touch to measure your progress. Perform two or three sets of this exercise during your workout twice a week and watch your vertical leap grow.

    Adding Extra Agility

    An added boost of agility through the core muscles, hips, legs and feet can make a big impact on a player's game on both ends of the court. In any agility drill, a player should be forced to change directions and change speeds, such as in the zig-zag drill. Begin the drill by standing underneath the basket and sliding along the baseline in a defensive stance to the corner. Then sprint diagonally to the free-throw line and slide laterally again to the sideline. Repeat the diagonal sprint to the half-court line, slide once more to the sideline, then back-pedal to the baseline. Run the drill on both sides of the court to equally improve lateral movement and agility in both directions.

    To read the entire article by Andrew Reiner and for more references, visit Livestrong.com.

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  3. Power Up Your Warm Up

    KT Tape is used to prevent and treat injuries, but there is a lot you can do to warm up your muscles before you exercise that will go a long way in preventing injury as well.  Gale Bernhardt for Active.com gives these tips for warm up and why it’s important:

    Too often, athletes show up late to a group workout and just jump in on the fast swimming, running or riding with no warm-up. Others are pinched for time, trying to squeeze a workout into a busy schedule, so they skip the warm-up figuring the main set of the workout is more important anyway.

    Is a warm-up really necessary? What constitutes a "good" warm-up?

    Enhanced Performance

    A warm-up activity serves two major purposes—to enhance performance and prevent injury. Consequently, a warm-up is both physical and mental.

    Relaxed, sitting in your chair and reading this column produces a relatively low 15- to 20-percent of blood flow to your skeletal muscles. Most of the small blood vessels (capillaries) within those muscles are closed. After 10 to 12 minutes of total body exercise, blood flow to the skeletal muscles increases to some 70 to 75 percent and the capillaries open.

    Along with more blood flow comes an increase in muscle temperature. This is good because the hemoglobin in your blood releases oxygen more readily at a higher temperature. More blood going to the muscles, along with more oxygen available to the working muscles, means better performance.

    An increase in temperature also contributes to faster muscle contraction and relaxation. Nerve transmission and muscle metabolism is increased, so the muscles work more efficiently.

    Injury Prevention

    Scientific studies on linking warming up with injury prevention are difficult to administer. Few athletes want to go through a muscle stress test to see what it takes to tear a muscle.

    Old studies on animal subjects determined that injuring a muscle that has gone through a warm-up process required more force and more muscle length than a muscle with no warm-up. This study is in line with the anecdotal data that acute muscle tears occur more often when the muscles are cold or not warmed up.

    There have been human studies on sudden, high-intensity exercise and the effects on the heart. One particular study had 44 men (free of overt symptoms of coronary artery disease) run on a treadmill at high intensity for 10 to 15 seconds without any warm-up. Electrocardiogram (ECG) data showed that 70 percent of the subjects displayed abnormal ECG changes that were attributed to low blood supply to the heart muscle. Yikes!

    The abnormal changes were not related to age or fitness level.

    To examine the benefit of a warm-up, 22 of the men with abnormal results did a jog-in-place at a moderate intensity for two minutes before getting on the treadmill for another test of high-intensity running. With that small two-minute warm-up, 10 of the men now showed normal ECG tracings and 10 showed improved tracings. Only two of the subjects still showed significant abnormalities.

    It is not known if a more thorough warm-up of 10 to 20 minutes would have made more improvements. It would have been interesting to see the results if the scientists would have taken the experiment that additional step.

    Mental Preparation

    Part of a warm-up process includes getting your head ready for the upcoming activity. Mentally preparing for the upcoming workout, or event, is thought to improve technique, skill and coordination.

    This mental warm-up also prepares athletes for the discomfort of tough intervals or a race. If the mind is ready to endure discomfort, the body can produce higher speeds. If the mind is unwilling to endure discomfort, physical performance will certainly be limited.

    How Much Should I Warm Up?

    There is no hard evidence as to how much warm-up is needed before a workout or a race. Most recommendations are in the 10- to 20-minute range, though some athletes have found they need more warm-up time.

    Athletes with high levels of fitness typically need longer warm-up periods before doing high-intensity workouts or short races. Athletes with lower levels of fitness usually use a shorter warm-up time. However, athletes with low fitness levels also tend to produce lower speeds during workouts and races.

    Athletes with dormant speed and currently low fitness levels need to be particularly cautious with workout and race intensities in order to minimize injury risk. This means if you were once fast, but you're now out of shape, be patient with building your speed and fitness.

    A general recommendation for warming up is to begin with low-intensity swimming, cycling or running. Keep it mostly aerobic or Zone 1 intensity at the beginning of the warm-up. Gradually increase intensity as you progress through the warm-up period. You can include short segments of gradually increasing intensity in the 30- to 60-second range, with long rest intervals as you get closer to the high-intensity segment of your workout…

    To read the entire article, visit Active.com.  Check out further tips for10 specific exercises that will take you through a thorough, 25-minute warm-up routine.

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  4. Featured Store: Fleet Feet Sports Gaithersburg

    This week Fleet Feet Sports in Gaithersburg, Maryland hosted a KT Tape Seminar for local athletes and fans.  With free samples and taping, we demoed the shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and knee applications for runners and cyclists.


    We are proud to partner with Fleet Feet Sports Gaithersburg and work with their team of knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff!  In addition to KT Tape and other seminars, their services include events, run clubs, and much more.  See below for a message from Chris, one of the Fleet Feet Gaithersburg owners, and click here to see more pictures from the Fleet Feet KT Tape Seminar!


    Fleet Feet Sports, Gaithersburg is a specialty running/fitness store carrying athletic footwear, apparel and accessories for runners and walkers. We are staffed by runners, walkers and fitness enthusiasts just like you. Whether you are a beginning runner/walker or an elite athlete, we will offer outstanding customer service and strive to cover the total fitness needs of our community. Our knowledgeable staff will take you through a gait analysis, which will provide us with the information we need to fit you in the best shoe for you. We are also committed to enhancing and growing the running and walking communities, offering educational resources, training and racing opportunities to assist you in achieving your goals.

    We guarantee:

    * Individualized service and attention,
    * Highly knowledgeable, trained staff,
    * A mix of shoes, apparel and accessories designed specifically for runners and walkers which offer the best balance of value and performance; and
    * A family friendly environment.

    We stock only the best shoes, apparel and accessories available for running and walking. We want to provide the best customer service in a warm welcoming at home atmosphere. Whether you run, walk, belong to a health club or aspire to do one of these activities, you’re welcome at Fleet Feet Sports, Gaithersburg!

    A big thanks to Fleet Feet Sports Gaithersburg and all the new KT Tape fans we met this week! 

    To find the Fleet Feet nearest you, visit the KT Tape Store Locator.   You can learn more about Fleet Feet Gaithersburg by visiting their website or facebook page, and following them on twitter (@FFGaithersburg).


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  5. Shoulder Pain? Sneak Peek at NEW KT Tape Application!


    Welcome to the sneak peek preview of one of KT Tape’s newest applications: Scapular Stability.  You may have seen the KT Tape Team use this application at one of our KT Tape Taping Stations at sporting events across the country lately.  It is quickly growing to be a team favorite with great results for all who try it! 

    Here are a few further details on how KT Tape works in this application to provide scapular stability: 

    Where Do I Apply KT Tape for Shoulder Instability?

    The scapular stability application is applied in relation to three specific landmarks: acromion (bump on the shoulder), inferior angle of the scapula (bottom of the shoulder blade), and the point on the spine that you reach if you drew a line through the first two. These landmarks identify where the muscles are that help to control the scapula, or the shoulder blade.

    Why Does Scapular Instability Occur?

    Many shoulder injuries can be traced to muscle imbalances at and around the shoulder- for example, a shoulder that is pulled forward due to tight muscles in the chest and weak muscles in the back.  Because we naturally use the chest muscles of the shoulder more frequently, a muscle balance can occur if we do not specifically exercise and strengthen the muscles of the upper back and the back of the shoulder.  This muscle imbalance causes the shoulder blade to be pulled up and forward, creating a smaller space for the tendons, bursae, and portions of some of the surrounding muscles. This situation creates pain.  

    How Does KT Tape Help?

    Scapula (or shoulder blade) taping is a very useful technique for reducing shoulder pain by equalizing muscle imbalance in the shoulder. This application helps to gently pull the shoulder back into a more balanced and anatomically correct position, often times referred to as “neutral”, which encourages the mid-back and lower trapezius muscles to do their job and anchor the shoulder blade back to the spine and downward.  As this application signals muscles in the back to reposition the scapula and therefore create more joint space, many causes of pain can be alleviated and the healing process can begin.

    What Else Can I Do To Prevent Further Pain or Injury?

    For prevention, one should implement an exercise program that focuses on strengthening the trapezius and rotator cuff muscles while stretching the muscles in the chest. This KT Tape application along with these exercises and stretching will address the causes of the pain, not merely the symptoms.

     For further questions and information, visit the KT Tape facebook page.

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  6. USA Water Polo Idols

    The Counter Attack is the official podcast of KT Tape sponsored athletes: the USA Water Polo National Team.

    In this episode of The Counter Attack, 2008 Olympian Peter Hudnut talks about his return to the National Team after taking time away to pursue Business School. Peter also talks about his start in water polo, why he is returning and some of his water polo idols growing up.

    To listen to The Counter Attack, click here.  Enjoy!


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  7. Plagued By Poor Posture? Let KT Tape Ease Your Pain

    One of the main causes of back pain while running or engaging in any sport is poor posture.  KT Tape provides a multitude of applications for supporting the neck, back, and shoulders to combat poor posture and tendonitis or strains from overuse causing pain in the neck, shoulders, or back.

    Activities requiring intense concentration and limited body movement create stress that contributes to muscle pain in the neck and shoulder. Long drives, computer work, and similar activities often contribute to neck and shoulder pain.

    KT Tape is helpful in relieving pain by providing support to the neck and shoulder muscles spreading the stress across a wider range of muscles. Bio feedback contributes to better posture which eases stress on the neck and shoulder. KT Tape can also relieve pressure on the points of pain in the back and send correct signaling to the muscles that allow them to relax.  KT Tape increases the range of motion when recovering from inflammation and injury.

    Livestrong.com recently featured an article that provides further insights into how poor posture affects your body and tips for improving your posture and reducing pain:

    Overview

    Pain in the upper back while running is most likely due to poor posture. There are several positions your spine can misalign while exercising. If you experience this while running, it is probable that your everyday posture could be improved as well. Avoid letting your head jut past your shoulders, keep your shoulders relaxed from your ears and work on strengthening your upper back to help relieve upper back pain.

    Causes of Pain

    Everyday activities, such as sitting at a desk, driving, lounging on your couch and even making dinner encourage a slumped, bent-over position where your back and shoulders are rounding forward. Over long periods of time, your body adapts to this position, creating imbalances and losing flexibility that encourages better posture. Being aware of your posture when you're not running will be the first step in improving your posture when you hit the pavement.

    Dropping Your Head

    Dropping your head forward so that it does not line up with the rest of your body is one of the main reasons for upper back pain, poor posture and misalignment. Doing this decreases the range of motion in your neck, tightens the muscles in your chest, fatigues your upper back and shoulders, puts extra stress on your lower back and overall hinders your performance. This may be the cause of your running pain and can be corrected by running upright with your ear lobes hovering above your shoulders and your shoulders above your hips.

    Relaxed Body

    Tension throughout your body can create stress in your upper back and neck. Let your shoulders relax away from your ears instead of hunching them up. Lifted shoulders create a harder position for your arms to move forward and back, making your muscles fatigue faster. Work on stretching your chest, neck and shoulders to loosen up the areas that may be tight for you prior to running.

    Upper Back Exercises

    Overemphasizing strength exercises such as pushups, chest presses and anterior shoulder raises only encourages the rounded upper back, since these exercises strengthen and tighten the muscles in the front part of your upper body. When strength training, be sure to include exercises for your upper back, such as rows, reverse flyes and pullups.

    Considerations

    Aside from proper posture and balancing your muscle groups, you should keep your running shoes updated, since running in old shoes can make your stride and posture worse. Replace them every year or every 500 miles, whichever comes first. Consider running on softer surfaces, like grass or a padded track, and focus on running in a forward motion rather than just up and down. If the pain persists or becomes problematic in other areas of your life, visit your doctor for a diagnosis.

    For tips on easy upper back exercises, click here. To read the entire article, and for more articles by Jenna Morris, visit Livestrong.com.

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  8. Does Exercise Make You Smarter?

    Recent studies have shown that exercise not only improves physical and mental health, but can also make us “smarter” no matter what our age- child, adult, or the aging.  This report by Kristin Harrison, editor-in-chief of Her Sports + Fitness, on Active.com, synthesizes some of the most recent research showing that exercise really does make us smarter:

    We all know exercise is good for us. But recently, researchers have added a startling new perk to its long list of benefits--it may make you smarter and help you stay that way as you age.

    According to neuroscientists, exercise increases blood flow in the brain, encourages activity between the neurons, and even promotes new neurons to grow in the hippocampus, which plays a major role in memory and learning.


    "Exercise is the single most powerful tool you have to optimize your brain function," says Harvard psychologist John Ratey, M.D., and author of the book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain.

    Turns out, exercise boosts brainpower regardless of age, which is why you, your 4-year-old daughter and your 84-year-old grandmother should get moving.

    Fit Kids = Smart Kids

    Charles Hillman, a runner, cyclist, hockey player and associate professor of kinesiology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has spent more than a decade researching the effects of exercise on adult brains. The birth of his now 5-year-old son shifted his work in a new direction.

    "My son runs around like a maniac all the time," says Hillman, who noticed the children unlike his son at a shopping mall's play center--those who chose to sit on the fringes and not participate. "One thing that's always bothered me about my work with adults is that we don't intervene until they are older and sedentary. I wondered if by studying sedentary children we could prevent them from becoming sedentary, unhealthy adults."


    In 2005, Hillman and his research team began investigating a simple question: Do fit kids perform better on a cognitive test than sedentary kids? To find out, Hillman had 51 volunteer children watch a screen that displayed drawings of dogs and cats randomly. He instructed the kids to hit a button as fast as they could whenever they saw a cat, shown 20 percent of the time. Their results were then compared with scores from a fitness test.

    "The fit kids processed information more quickly and performed faster and more accurately than their sedentary peers. Exercise can really affect cognition, just as it affects muscles," says Hillman.
    Ratey's research backs this up. "Exercise influences learning directly, at the cellular level, improving the brain's potential to log in and process new information," he says.

    In Spark, he cites the small, low-income school district of Titusville, Pennsylvania, where physical-education coordinator Tim McCord convinced the district to add 10 minutes to the schedule to make time for daily gym classes that focused on aerobic fitness.

    Since the changes in 2000, the students' standardized test scores have risen dramatically, from below the state average to 17 percent above it in reading and 18 percent above in math.


    As a parent, Hillman has simple advice for how to help your children's brains get healthier. "Keep kids moving," he says. "They need at least one hour of intermittent movement per day--the more the better."

    Stay Sharp as an Adult

    From the growing number of studies conducted in the last decade, researchers have discovered that exercise most positively affects what's known as executive function--mental processes that allow you to plan, organize, and multitask.

    Interestingly, in your 20s and into middle age, these benefits can be seen both immediately after a workout and years later.
    For example, in a 2006 German study, researchers found participants learned vocabulary words 20 percent faster immediately after an anaerobic sprint session. Scientists theorize these boosts occur because the brain, flowing with increased levels of blood and oxygen, can operate at its most efficient level.


    The take-home lesson: "If you have an important afternoon brainstorming session scheduled, going for a short, intense run at lunch is a smart idea," says Ratey.

    Beyond the immediate benefit exercise provides, working out regularly now can also help you years down the road. A 2002 study at University College London surveyed more than 1,900 people and found that those who participated in regular physical activities at age 36 showed significantly less decline in memory at ages 43 to 53 than their less active peers.


    Although researchers aren't sure why, studies have found that regular aerobic exercise (lasting at least 30 minutes) combined with strength training offers the most cognitive benefits.

    Active Aging

    To read the entire article, visit Active.com

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  9. Sliding Onto Base With KT Tape

    Check out this terrific slide!  What’s that on her shoulder?  That’s right, it’s KT Tape!  Softball high school athlete Nikita Nelson slides into second base proudly bearing her KT Tape for all to see.

    Nelson’s team, defending champions Grand County contented with San Juan at the state semifinals in Spanish Fork, UT last week, and Nelson sported KT Tape for the game (Trent Nelson, The Salt Lake Tribune).

    Shoulder injuries are the most common injury in baseball and softball- both for youth and adult players.  Dr. Teri McCambridge, chair of The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Council on Sports Medicine & Fitness explains, "The majority of sports-related injuries involve the body's soft tissues rather than the bones.  That's why it's important that children avoid overuse or strain."  

    shoulder app Shoulder applications are one of the most popular KT Tape apps for softball and baseball athletes.  Pain in the front of the shoulder is usually the result of strained or inflamed biceps tendons.  Inflammation of the biceps tendons or strained ligaments contributes to pain in the front of the shoulder.  KT Tape is helpful in increasing lymphatic drainage, reducing pain by relieving pressure on nerves, and proving support and stability to the shoulder.

    A Medco Athletics report on youth baseball and softball injuries found that most relate to the shoulder and elbow, and outlined several steps to prevention and further understanding.  You can read an excerpt from the article below, or click here to view the full report.

    Overall, several important areas need to be examined to understand elbow and shoulder injuries in youth baseball players. These areas include but are not limited to epidemiology, biomechanics, and prevention of elbow and shoulder injuries in youth baseball pitchers. First, most injuries occur to the elbow, with Little League Elbow being the most common injury. The anatomy of the elbow allows for instability that is a predisposing factor to injury, however the shoulder can also be injured with pitching and throwing in youth baseball players. Secondly, the ability to pitch correctly requires proper biomechanics. Improper mechanics may lead to a decrease in performance or an increase in the risk of injury. (21) Information concerning throwing injuries and the six phases of throwing can help teach techniques to improve treatment and prevention of throwing injuries. (13)
    Finally, prevention is another aspect of elbow and shoulder injuries. Prevention is multi-dimensional and includes all personnel involved. Additionally, the major concern is the number of pitches not the number of innings pitched per youth baseball player.
    The information above indicates that researching elbow and shoulder injuries in youth baseball players requires a comprehensive approach. Many components, including epidemiology, biomechanics and prevention must be examined to completely understand the significance and severity of injuries to a youth baseball pitcher's arm.

    To read the entire article about the High School softball game, visit the Tribune website.

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  10. Bike To Work: Tips For Your First Commute

    superbowl-xlv-2011

    National Bike-To-Work-Day is this Friday, May 20th!  Armed with KT Tape and these tips from Gale Bernhardt on Active.com, your ride to work this week is sure to be smooth on just two wheels.  Happy biking!

    On your drive into work, have you ever noticed a cyclist obviously commuting and admired that person? Have you thought it would be cool to ride your bike to work, or home from the office? Perhaps it's crossed your mind that bike commuting not only helps the environment and saves gas money; but it could help you stay fit, healthy and burn a few extra calories.

    Despite some worthy reasons to ride your bike to work, there never seems to be a good time to start. So why not start now? Lots of people commute on their bicycles, why not you?

    Even if you commute only a handful of times, it's better than none at all. To help you get rolling, here are 13 tips for commuting on your bike:

    1. Begin with an achievable distance.

    If you live only a few miles from work, it is conceivable that you can commute both ways on the first day. If you live several miles from work, and the commute will take you some 45 to 60 minutes or more, consider hitching a ride with a co-worker to get to the office, then ride home. Make the distance doable for you; don't worry about what other people might be doing.

    2. Start with an achievable frequency.

    Sure it sounds good that you're turning over a new leaf and you have grand plans to commute to and from work every day, but is that goal achievable immediately? Begin by setting a goal to commute one to three times per week. After you can consistently achieve success, add more commuting segments or days.

    3. Wear a helmet.

    In the unlikely case of an accident, you want to protect your head and all those great ideas.

    4. Wear clothing that can easily be seen by motorists.

    If you are commuting in early morning or late evening hours, wear reflective gear and put a flashing tail light on your bike. For daylight commuting wear bright colors that can easily be seen by motorists.

    5. Don't make a big deal out of special clothes and gear.

    Depending on the distance of your commute, you might be able to commute in your work clothes. Some commutes are workouts and other commutes are more practical in nature.

    When I was in the Italian city of Ferrara, I saw women riding bikes to work in business suits with a brief case strapped to the luggage rack. They were wearing low pumps and using platform pedals. Bike commuting appeared to be commonplace.

    6. Consider cycling shorts.

    If your commute is longer than 20 or 30 minutes, you will probably be more comfortable in cycling shorts. Cycling shorts eliminate that intersection of seams that meet right where you are putting your torso on the bike seat. Pressure and friction can make this area really uncomfortable when cycling longer distances. Cycling shorts (worn without underwear) can significantly improve your comfort.

    7. Do a dry run on the weekend.

    If you're nervous about how much time it will take you to get to work, do a dry run on the weekend. Ride at an easy pace, knowing that if you were in a bind for time, you could pick up the pace.

    8. Find routes with minimal traffic.

    It may lengthen your commute some, but finding roads that aren't as busy might be worth your time. Check out any bike paths in the area to see if they would be a good choice.

    9. Learn how to change a flat.

    If you don't already know how to do it, learn how to change a flat tire.

    10. Carry a cell phone and call for help if you have significant mechanical trouble.

    If you have time to change a flat tire or deal with other mechanical issues on the way into work, fine. If you're pinched for time, call someone to give you a lift. There's a good chance you're on the road well before anyone else, so it's likely that a co-worker will come your way.

    To read the entire article for further tips on bike commuting, visit Active.com.

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