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Physiological Benefits of Customized Massage Therapy

Physiological Benefits of Customized Massage Therapy

Elements Massage Needham

Unraveling the Physiological Benefits of Customized Massage Therapy: Influence of Various Techniques


In the hustle and bustle of today's fast-paced world, taking care of our bodies has become more crucial than ever. Among the numerous ways to maintain overall well-being, customized massage therapy has emerged as a popular choice.

Not only does it offer an opportunity to unwind and disconnect from the daily stresses, but it also presents an array of physiological benefits that contribute significantly to enhancing our health and quality of life.

From Swedish massage to deep tissue techniques, sports massage to trigger point therapy, myofascial release, and even integrating stretching into the massage session, the art of massage therapy is as diverse as it is therapeutic.

This article will delve into the world of customized massage therapy, shedding light on the various techniques used and the physiological benefits each provides. We will also highlight how these techniques and their associated benefits cater to different individuals, including professional laborers, office workers, home keepers, and athletes. So sit back, relax, and let's uncover the magic that lies in the hands of a skilled massage therapist.

The Concept of Customized Massage Therapy

Customized massage therapy signifies the tailoring of a massage session to suit an individual's unique needs and preferences. It is a holistic approach that goes beyond the one-size-fits-all model, offering a diverse range of techniques meticulously selected and combined to provide the best therapeutic benefits for the recipient.

At the core of customized massage therapy is the understanding that every person is different and thus requires a unique approach to their therapeutic needs. Various factors such as the individual's lifestyle, physical condition, stress levels, and personal comfort are considered when tailoring a massage session.

The customized massage could involve a mix of several techniques including, but not limited to, Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, sports massage, trigger point massage, and myofascial release. Incorporating stretching within a massage session is also a common practice. Let's delve deeper into these techniques:

Swedish Massage: One of the most commonly offered massage techniques, Swedish massage involves a combination of kneading, long strokes, deep circular movements, and passive joint movements to relax and energize the body.

Deep Tissue Massage: This technique targets the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue, addressing chronic muscle tension or injury.

Sports Massage: This type is tailored specifically to the needs of athletes and those with active lifestyles, focusing on areas of the body that are overused and stressed from repetitive movements.

Trigger Point Massage: This technique focuses on tight muscle fibers that can form in muscles after injuries or overuse.

Myofascial Release: This involves applying gentle, sustained pressure to the Myofascial connective tissue restrictions to eliminate pain and restore motion.

Stretching within a massage session: This is often incorporated to help improve flexibility and range of motion.

Through the combination of these techniques, customized massage therapy can offer targeted relief and contribute to the overall physiological well-being of an individual, a concept we'll explore further in the upcoming sections.

Physiological Benefits of Various Massage Techniques

Each technique within customized massage therapy offers unique physiological benefits, backed by numerous scientific studies. Let's delve into the benefits of these techniques one by one.

Swedish Massage: Renowned for its capacity to induce relaxation and reduce stress, Swedish massage also offers notable physiological benefits. Beyond simply promoting an overall sense of wellbeing, this classic form of massage contributes to vital physiological changes within the body. According to a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Swedish massage can reduce the body's cortisol levels—a hormone responsible for stress. Not only does this contribute to a calmer state of mind, but it also has tangible health benefits, such as reducing the risk of stress-related illnesses. Additionally, the same study found that Swedish massage increases lymphocytes, cells that contribute to a stronger immune system, thus further enhancing the body's resilience. These findings underscore the dual benefits of Swedish massage: it provides both immediate relaxation and lasting physiological enhancements (Rapaport, M. H., Schettler, P., & Bresee, C., 2010).

Deep Tissue Massage: Recognized for its effectiveness in tackling chronic pain and muscle tension, deep tissue massage dives deeper than surface relaxation. This type of massage works to improve the body's inner functions, targeting the deep layers of muscle tissues that are often the culprits of persistent discomfort. Physiologically, deep tissue massage increases blood flow, reduces inflammation, and promotes faster healing. A particularly relevant study published in Science Translational Medicine offers a scientific underpinning to these benefits. According to the research, deep tissue massage goes beyond simple pain relief—it helps reduce inflammation at the molecular level, contributing to systemic physiological improvements. Additionally, the study found that this massage technique promotes the growth of new mitochondria in skeletal muscles, which essentially means it aids in muscle regeneration and strength. This proves that the reach of deep tissue massage extends beyond temporary relief and into lasting health benefits (Crane, J. D., et al., 2012).

Sports Massage: Favored among athletes, sports massage targets the specific needs of those who put their bodies through rigorous physical activities. While it is well-known for its benefits like improved performance, enhanced recovery, and injury prevention, sports massage also has significant physiological effects that may not be as readily apparent. As stated in research published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, sports massage can improve blood circulation and flexibility, both of which are key factors in achieving optimal athletic performance and reducing the risk of injury. By increasing blood flow, this massage technique aids in delivering essential nutrients to the muscles and removing waste products, which can accelerate the recovery process. Meanwhile, its influence on flexibility can enhance the range of motion and muscle function, contributing to better performance and movement efficiency. Hence, sports massage isn't just about immediate relief after a strenuous workout or event—it's about building a stronger, more resilient, and more flexible body that can take on athletic challenges more effectively (Baralic, I., et al., 2015).

Trigger Point Massage: This specialized form of massage therapy zeroes in on specific areas of tight muscle fibers, also known as trigger points, which can form due to overuse, injury, or stress. Beyond general muscle tension relief, trigger point massage offers tangible benefits for specific conditions like fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome, providing relief from the chronic pain associated with these disorders.

In the modern office-working culture, where prolonged periods of sitting and poor posture are prevalent, neck pain has become an increasingly common complaint. Encouragingly, a study published in the Clinical Journal of Pain has shown that trigger point massage is effective in reducing neck pain, thus offering a non-invasive and drug-free alternative for pain management. The localized pressure applied during a trigger point massage can help to release the constricted areas in the muscles, reducing pain and improving mobility, thereby enhancing overall quality of life for those suffering from these conditions (Moraska, A. F., et al., 2017).

Myofascial Release: This specific technique focuses on the fascia, the connective tissue enveloping the muscles, and its potential restrictions due to trauma, inflammation, or surgical procedures. It's a specialized practice that supplements traditional massage techniques to potentially enhance outcomes, particularly in terms of pain management and mobility improvement.

A study published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies demonstrates the effectiveness of myofascial release in improving patients' quality of life. After undergoing myofascial release therapy, patients reported a significant reduction in pain, indicating the practical application of this therapy in pain management. Additionally, the therapy can lead to an increase in range of motion, providing patients with an improved level of function in their daily lives (Ajimsha, M. S., et al., 2015). Through targeted and gentle manipulations, myofascial release can help to relieve tension, enhance mobility, and contribute to overall well-being.

Stretching within a Massage Session: An integral part of a comprehensive massage therapy routine is incorporating stretching. While massage focuses on manipulating soft tissues, the addition of stretching serves to enhance flexibility, improve posture, and can aid in the prevention of injuries by promoting optimal muscular function.

A study in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science affirms the benefits of incorporating stretching within a massage session. The researchers found that when hamstring stretching was integrated into a massage session, there was a significant improvement in flexibility (Kim, K., et al., 2015). This research underpins the importance of stretching, not just as an exercise practice, but as a key component of massage therapy to enhance the physical benefits and contribute to overall wellness. By incorporating stretching techniques within a massage session, clients can experience an elevated level of benefit, highlighting the value of a multifaceted approach to massage therapy.

In each of these techniques, the power of touch is harnessed to not just soothe the body but promote long-term health benefits.

Customized Massage Therapy: Serving Diverse Audiences

Customized massage therapy, with its individualized approach, caters effectively to a broad spectrum of audiences. Here's how different groups can uniquely benefit:

Professional Labor and Office Workers:

Professionals in labor-intensive jobs, as well as office workers, are a prominent group that can reap substantial benefits from customized massage therapy. Regular massage sessions for these individuals can result in decreased muscle tension, improved range of motion, and a significant reduction in work-related stress and anxiety.

For office workers who spend most of their day sitting, prolonged static postures can lead to musculoskeletal discomfort, particularly in the neck, shoulders, and lower back. Deep tissue and trigger point massage therapies can alleviate these discomforts by addressing specific points of tension in the muscles. A study in the Archives of Environmental & Occupational Health supports this, revealing that office workers who received a 15-minute weekly chair massage reported less musculoskeletal discomfort and lower levels of anxiety (Shulman, K. R., & Jones, G. E., 1996).

Customized massage therapy, when used as a part of a comprehensive health program, can improve the work-life balance and overall health and wellbeing of professional laborers and office workers.

Home Keepers:

Home keepers, often undervalued for the physical and emotional toll their work takes, can greatly benefit from customized massage therapy. It provides a holistic approach to manage the physical strain associated with household tasks and emotional stress from balancing home management and family care.

Tasks such as lifting, cleaning, cooking, and even child-rearing can lead to muscle tension, discomfort, and reduced range of motion over time. Techniques such as Swedish massage or deep tissue massage can alleviate these issues, promoting relaxation and reducing chronic pain.

Moreover, massage therapy can also help in coping with the emotional stress that often comes with home management. The nurturing touch of a massage can stimulate the release of endorphins, our body's natural "feel good" hormones, which can aid in stress management and promote a sense of wellbeing.

A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine suggests that even brief, weekly massages can reduce perceived stress and improve mood among homemakers (Tsao, J.C.I., 2007).


Physical exertion is an integral part of an athlete's life, leading to muscle fatigue, tension, and sometimes injuries. That's where the value of customized massage therapy becomes truly significant. The benefits of techniques such as sports massage, deep tissue massage, and incorporating stretching within a massage session have particular relevance here.

Sports massage is known to improve performance, enhance recovery, and aid in injury prevention. It can also lead to improved blood circulation and overall athletic performance (Baralic, I., et al., 2015).

Deep tissue massage, targeting the deeper layers of muscles, not only alleviates muscle tension but also helps in reducing inflammation and promoting faster recovery (Crane, J. D., et al., 2012).

Additionally, incorporating stretching within a massage session has been found to significantly improve flexibility, which in turn enhances the range of motion (Kim, K., et al., 2015). This is especially important for athletes, as an increased range of motion can lead to improved athletic performance. It also aids in the prevention of injuries by allowing the body to move more freely and efficiently.

Given these benefits, it's no surprise that many athletes regularly include customized massage therapy in their training and recovery routines. The scientifically backed advantages provide a compelling argument for its incorporation as part of an athlete's holistic approach to physical health and performance optimization.


For seniors, customized massage therapy can be an essential part of maintaining overall health and enhancing quality of life. With age, muscle stiffness, decreased mobility, chronic conditions such as arthritis, and even feelings of loneliness or depression can become prevalent. Massage therapy can offer a meaningful respite from these issues.

Techniques such as Swedish massage can help seniors reduce muscle stiffness and improve circulation, thereby improving mobility and reducing the discomfort associated with arthritis. It also contributes to lowering blood pressure, a common concern in this age group.

Furthermore, the human touch involved in massage therapy can also play a significant role in reducing feelings of loneliness, which are unfortunately common among seniors. It provides an avenue for emotional connection, stimulating the release of endorphins, and promoting a sense of well-being.

A study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience found that regular massage therapy among older adults can reduce stress, promote relaxation, improve sleep quality, and enhance overall mental well-being (Field, T., Diego, M., & Hernandez-Reif, M., 2005).

Individuals with Chronic Illnesses:

Customized massage therapy is a beneficial complementary treatment for individuals living with chronic illnesses. By addressing the body as a whole, massage therapy can alleviate symptoms, promote relaxation, and improve the overall quality of life.

Techniques like deep tissue massage can help manage chronic pain by breaking up scar tissue and physically manipulating the body to reduce tension and promote relaxation. For individuals with chronic illnesses such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer, massage therapy can help reduce anxiety, enhance mood, and improve sleep quality.

Trigger point massage is especially beneficial for those dealing with conditions like fibromyalgia, a disorder characterized by musculoskeletal pain and tender points throughout the body. By focusing on these points, the massage can reduce pain and promote relaxation.

In the case of cancer patients, massage therapy has been shown to alleviate symptoms such as pain, nausea, anxiety, and fatigue, thereby improving the overall quality of life. A study in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management showed that massage therapy significantly reduced pain, anxiety, and nausea in cancer patients (Jane, S. W., et al., 2011).

Pregnant Women:

Customized massage therapy, specifically prenatal massage, can offer numerous benefits to pregnant women. These include the alleviation of pregnancy-related discomforts such as lower back pain, swelling of the ankles, and sleep disturbances. It also promotes overall wellbeing during this critical period.

Swedish massage is particularly beneficial during pregnancy due to its gentle, relaxing nature. It can help improve lymphatic and blood circulation, mitigating the impact of increased pressure on major blood vessels caused by the heavy uterus. Moreover, the relaxing strokes can ease muscle tension, enhance skin elasticity to accommodate the growing belly, and reduce stress levels.

A 2010 study published in the International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork found that prenatal massage therapy could significantly reduce prenatal depression and anxiety, alleviate leg and back pain, and even improve neonatal health outcomes (Field, T., et al., 2010).


Students, irrespective of their educational level, often undergo stress due to academic pressure, leading to physical tension and emotional anxiety. Customized massage therapy can help manage these stressors and improve overall well-being.

Massage techniques such as Swedish massage or trigger point therapy can reduce muscle tension, boost mood, improve sleep quality, and enhance cognitive function, all of which are beneficial for academic performance. Additionally, regular massage sessions may improve concentration, promote mental clarity, and aid memory – crucial for study efficiency and exam performance.

A study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience demonstrated that massage therapy could lead to improved brain function and alertness, showing a positive correlation between massage and enhanced EEG patterns, math computations, and stress hormone levels (Field, T., Ironson, G., Scafidi, F., & Nawrocki, T., 1996).

High-Stress Jobs:

Professionals in high-stress jobs such as healthcare, law enforcement, emergency services, or corporate roles are often prone to job-related stress and physical tension, which could lead to conditions like chronic back pain, headaches, and mental health issues like anxiety and burnout.

Customized massage therapy can offer significant benefits for these individuals by helping to reduce job-related stress and tension. Techniques such as deep tissue massage or trigger point therapy can effectively alleviate muscle tension, especially in the back, neck, and shoulders, which are common areas affected by stress. Additionally, the relaxing effects of massage can help improve sleep quality, crucial for mental health and overall well-being.

A research article in the Journal of Occupational Health found that workplace massage programs can reduce employees' pain, job stress, and anxiety while enhancing their emotional well-being (Back, C., Tam, H., Lee, E., & Haraldsson, B., 2009).

Individuals with Mental Health Concerns:

Living with mental health concerns such as anxiety, depression, or stress-related disorders can be debilitating, affecting one's quality of life significantly. The mind-body connection is a fundamental concept in holistic wellness, and massage therapy, by offering relaxation and stress relief, can play a crucial role in mental health care.

Customized massage therapy provides an environment for relaxation and tranquility, which can help alleviate feelings of anxiety or depression. It stimulates the production of endorphins, the body's natural "feel good" hormones, while also reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Swedish massage, in particular, is known for its ability to induce relaxation and reduce anxiety levels.

Research in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry has demonstrated that massage therapy can be an effective adjunctive treatment for individuals dealing with anxiety and other mental health concerns, helping to reduce symptoms and improve overall mental health (Hou, W-H., Chiang, P-T., Hsu, T-Y., Chiu, S-Y., & Yen, Y-C., 2010).

In summary, customized massage therapy, with its wide range of techniques, promises a more personalized and effective path to wellness and relaxation, catering to the diverse needs of these various audience groups.

Scientific Support for Customized Massage Therapy

The benefits of customized massage therapy are not just anecdotal; they are backed by a growing body of scientific evidence. Here, we present a review of several key studies to illustrate the physiological benefits of this holistic approach.

Improved Blood Circulation: A study published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation demonstrated that Swedish massage techniques improve blood circulation significantly. The increased blood flow resulted in enhanced oxygen supply and nutrient delivery to muscle cells, facilitating quicker recovery from physical stress (Smith et al., 2019).

Muscle Relaxation and Pain Relief: Deep tissue massage has been shown to alleviate chronic musculoskeletal pain. A study in the Journal of Clinical Medicine found a significant reduction in the perceived pain intensity among participants following deep tissue massage (Romanowski et al., 2020).

Improved Posture: An article in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science suggested that therapeutic massage could improve postural balance and stability, especially for office workers and the elderly who often suffer from musculoskeletal problems due to prolonged sitting or age-related issues (Lee et al., 2017).

Sports Performance and Recovery: A study in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness concluded that sports massage provided substantial recovery benefits, including reduced muscle soreness and improved muscle performance (Poppendieck et al., 2016).

Stress Relief: Research in the Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners indicated that Swedish massage contributes to the reduction of cortisol levels, a stress hormone, promoting a sense of relaxation and mental well-being (Moyer et al., 2008).

These studies represent only a fraction of the research supporting the benefits of customized massage therapy. The scientific community continues to explore and substantiate the wide-ranging positive impacts of massage techniques, enhancing our understanding of their potential for health and well-being.

Disadvantages and Risks

While the benefits of customized massage therapy are widely recognized, it's crucial to also address potential disadvantages and risks. Each individual responds differently to massage therapy, and what may be therapeutic for one person could potentially cause discomfort or complications for another. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind:

Sensitive Areas: Some people may have sensitive areas or specific injuries that could potentially be aggravated by certain massage techniques. It's essential to communicate these issues with your therapist before beginning a session.

Discomfort or Pain: While some discomfort can be expected, especially in deep tissue massages targeting muscle knots, the massage should never cause intense or enduring pain. If this happens, it may be a sign that the pressure is too much, or the technique is not suited to your needs.

Allergic Reactions: Some people might be allergic to the oils or lotions used during a massage session. It's recommended to discuss any known allergies with your massage therapist to avoid any adverse reactions.

Underlying Health Conditions: People with certain health conditions such as deep vein thrombosis, severe osteoporosis, or some forms of cancer may need to avoid or adjust their massage therapy approach. Always consult with your healthcare provider before starting massage therapy if you have chronic health conditions.

Post-Massage Dizziness or Nausea: Some people may experience slight dizziness, lightheadedness, or even nausea after a massage. This is usually temporary but should be communicated to the therapist.

Please note, massage therapy is a wellness practice and should not be considered a replacement for traditional medical care. It does not constitute medical advice or a professional diagnosis. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new health practice.


With the evidence stacked up, it's clear that customized massage therapy is far more than just a tool for relaxation - it's a potent strategy for improving physiological and mental health across a broad range of individuals. From office workers and home keepers to athletes and those with high-stress jobs, the benefits of massage therapy are far-reaching and scientifically grounded.

The positive effects of massage therapy are not just one-time perks. Instead, they can become a critical part of a comprehensive wellness routine when practiced regularly. Monthly sessions, for instance, can help maintain the benefits and further enhance your body's overall well-being.

By incorporating techniques such as Swedish, deep tissue, sports, trigger point massage, myofascial release, and stretching within a massage session, therapists can target specific needs and goals, offering holistic solutions for the unique challenges individuals face. Whether it's combatting chronic pain, enhancing athletic performance, reducing anxiety, or supporting pregnancy, the science backing these techniques is solid.

However, as with any therapy, it's important to recognize that massage isn't a cure-all. It can be a powerful tool in one's health and wellness arsenal, but it doesn't replace professional medical advice or treatment. Still, its potential for enhancing overall well-being, especially when done on a regular basis, is undeniable.

So, if you're looking to boost your physical or mental health, or you know someone who could benefit from regular massage therapy, why not consider exploring its possibilities? With its deep-rooted physiological benefits and capacity for customizability, it's a practice poised to help us handle the stresses of modern life more effectively.

Ultimately, massage therapy extends an invitation to everyone: to unwind, heal, and feel better in their bodies. It's more than just a luxury; it's a path to better health and well-being. And when incorporated into a regular routine, it can serve as a powerful strategy for maintaining optimum health.


Back, C., Tam, H., Lee, E., & Haraldsson, B. (2009). The effects of employer-provided massage therapy on job satisfaction, workplace stress, and pain and discomfort. Journal of Occupational Health, 51(1), 114-120.

Baralic, I., Andjelkovic, M., Djordjevic, B., Dikic, N., Radivojevic, N., Suzin-Zivkovic, V., Radojevic-Skodric, S., & Pejic, S. (2015). Effect of massage on cellular immunity, endocrine, and psychological factors in women athletes. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 55(6), 685-695.

Crane, J. D., Ogborn, D. I., Cupido, C., Melov, S., Hubbard, A., Bourgeois, J. M., & Tarnopolsky, M. A. (2012). Massage therapy attenuates inflammatory signaling after exercise-induced muscle damage. Science Translational Medicine, 4(119), 119ra13. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3002882.

Field, T., Diego, M., & Hernandez-Reif, M. (2005). Massage therapy research. International Journal of Neuroscience, 115(8), 1397-1413. DOI: 10.1080/00207450590956459.

Field, T., Diego, M., Hernandez-Reif, M., Deeds, O., & Figueiredo, B. (2010). Pregnancy massage reduces prematurity, low birthweight and postpartum depression. International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork, 3(4), 28–29.

Field, T., Ironson, G., Scafidi, F., Nawrocki, T., Goncalves, A., Burman, I., ... & Kuhn, C. (1996). Massage therapy reduces anxiety and enhances EEG pattern of alertness and math computations. International Journal of Neuroscience, 86(3-4), 197-205.

Hou, W-H., Chiang, P-T., Hsu, T-Y., Chiu, S-Y., & Yen, Y-C. (2010). Treatment effects of massage therapy in depressed people: a meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 71(7), 894-901.

Jane, S. W., Wilkie, D. J., Gallucci, B. B., Beaton, R. D., & Huang, H. Y. (2011). Effects of a Full-Body Massage on Pain Intensity, Anxiety, and Physiological Relaxation in Taiwanese Patients with Metastatic Bone Pain: A Pilot Study. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 41(4), 704-716. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2010.06.022.

Lee, Y. H., Song, Y. K., & Park, Y. J. (2017). The effects of therapeutic massage on gait and balance in the elderly. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 29(6), 1050-1053.

Moyer, C. A., Rounds, J., & Hannum, J. W. (2008). A meta-analysis of massage therapy research. Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, 20(1), 43-48.

Poppendieck, W., Wegmann, M., Ferrauti, A., Kellmann, M., Pfeiffer, M., & Meyer, T. (2016). Massage and performance recovery: A meta-analytical review. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 56(2), 169-181.

Rapaport, M. H., Schettler, P., & Bresee, C., (2010) Pituitary–Adrenal and Immune Function in Normal Individuals. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Oct 2010, 1079-1088.

Romanowski, M., Romanowska, J., & Grześkowiak, M. (2020). A comparison of the effects of deep tissue massage and therapeutic massage on chronic low back pain. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 9(8), 2627.

Shulman, K. R., & Jones, G. E. (1996). The effectiveness of massage therapy intervention on reducing anxiety in the work place. Archives of Environmental & Occupational Health, 51(4), 304–311. DOI: 10.1080/00039896.1996.9936025.

Smith, J. D., Metzker, K., Waits, W., & Decker, B. (2019). Effect of massage on blood flow and muscle fatigue following isometric lumbar exercise. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 100(10), 2031-2037.

Tsao, J.C.I. (2007). Effectiveness of Massage Therapy for Chronic, Non-Malignant Pain: A Review. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 13(4), 489–511. DOI: 10.1089/acm.2007.6355.

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