Best Mattress For Lower & Upper Back Pain – 2019 Reviews

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Choosing the best mattress for back pain is critical for your health and well-being. But with so many different options out there – how do you determine which one would truly help you out?

The mattress industry has been disrupted throughout the last few years with companies selling directly through the Internet without any middlemen premiums. This has made many products a lot more accessible.

While having an abundance of back pain mattress options could help you achieve your health and sleep goals – it's also overwhelming. We've narrowed down what we believe to be the best mattresses designed for back pain and aches – we're confident you'll find something that gives you the level of support you're looking for.

10 Best Mattresses For Back Pain

layla bed new medium product image Layla
  • Type: Memory Foam
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the winkbeds small product image Winkbeds
  • Type: Hybrid
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dreamcloud mobile image DreamCloud
  • Type: Hybrid
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casper small product image Casper
  • Type: Memory Foam
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purple bed mobile product image Purple
  • Type: Hyper-Elastic Polymer™
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casper wave medium image Casper Wave
  • Type: All Foam
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helix sleep small image Helix
  • Type: Hybrid
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Saatva small product image Saatva
  • Type: Innerspring
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small product image of bear mattress Bear Mattress
  • Type: Memory Foam
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Sojourn bed small product image Sojourn
  • Type: Memory Foam
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Our Top 10 Picks Reviewed

Layla – Pressure Relief

Highlights:

  • Dual-sided Firmness
  • CertiPUR-US® Certified
  • 120-Day Trial
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Made in the USA

Layla does an exceptional job of relieving pressure through its memory foam. If you like sinking further into the mattress and enjoy a slower response time, we think you will love the feel of this bed. While it has different firmness levels on each side (Soft and Firm), you can find the highest levels of pressure relief on their Soft side without having to worry so much about an extra firm feel.

Side sleepers especially gravitate towards the Soft side, where there are three thick inches of memory foam over two inches of convoluted (think egg-crate shape) Air Flow foam. This foam is zoned in the middle which can aid spine alignment.

What stands out? Not only do we feel that Layla’s pressure-relieving capabilities are top-notch – their memory foam is infused with copper. This should help you stay cool all night long by wicking the heat away, it is also designed to stiffen up under pressure helping to keep your spine straight while you sleep.

Since Layla is dual-sided, you can maximize the 120-night trial period by testing two different experiences in one new bed.

WinkBed – Luxury Zoned Support

Highlights:

  • CertiPUR-US® Certified
  • 120-Day Trial
  • “Any Reason” Guarantee
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Made in the USA

The WinkBed is a luxury mattress that is specifically engineered for restorative sleep. The hybrid design merges the best features of foam and innerspring beds into one dynamic mattress. Experience the plush comfort of foam combined with the deep support of coils.

Why is it special? The specialty Euro-pillow top surface is designed to provide advanced pressure point relief for all sleep positions. WinkBed’s signature “3-step” back relief system should offer decompression support for your spine, keeping your muscles relaxed and your joints properly aligned. The lumbar support pad provides an extra layer of support for your lower back to target pain at its source.

The WinkBed is handcrafted to-order, using innovative and eco-friendly, American-sourced materials. With extra features like a cooling Tencel cover, Sleepcalm™ motion isolation, and a durability system to prevent sagging, this mattress has it all.

Take advantage of WinkBed’s lifetime warranty and 120-night “sleep sweet” trial to see what luxury really feels like.

DreamCloud – Soft Feel

Highlights:

  • CertiPUR-US® Certified
  • 365-Day Trial
  • Everlong Warranty

From the moment you first lay on the DreamCloud bed, you’ll feel the soft, Quilted Euro Top gently cradling you from head to toe. Crafted with premium materials, this mattress combines luxury and comfort with deep pressure relief and support. This medium-firm bed is designed to be a nighttime sanctuary for every sleep position.

What makes it unique? The 6-layer hybrid design features gel-infused memory foam for pressure-point relief with pocketed innerspring coils for strong, pushback support. This means you get the softness you crave with adequate support for targeting back pain.

The comfort layer features gel-infused memory foam with an ultra-plush feel that should envelop your body like a cloud. The pocketed coils should promote breathability for a cool night’s rest with edge support and motion regulation for undisturbed sleep.

DreamCloud’s impressive 365-night sleep trial gives you a full year to test-drive this bed before deciding if it’s right for you.

Casper – All Sleeping Positions

Highlights:

  • CertiPUR-US® Certified
  • 100-Night Trial
  • 10-Year Warranty
  • Designed and Assembled in the USA

Well-known brand Casper has updated their original design with even more great features that most sleepers should love. The newest version of Casper has Zoned Support™, which promotes optimal spinal alignment by adjusting the firmness in the shoulder region, as well as the hips and core area. This is important for pain sufferers since back pain is often caused by inadequate support.

Why did it make the list? Casper’s Zoned Support™ layer of foam is softer beneath the shoulders and firmer underneath the hips and core. This helps to give pressure relief and support where needed and there are benefits for nearly every sleeping position.

Side sleepers should be able to have their shoulders sink further into the mattress while the hips stay well-supported. Stomach sleepers can enjoy the medium-firmness of the bed without sinking in a way that throws them out of alignment, and back sleepers should find a comfortable level of all-around support.

Purple – Innovative Design

Highlights:

  • CertiPUR-US® Certified
  • 100-Day Trial
  • 10-Year Warranty
  • Made in the USA

Purple is an innovative bed that was designed by a rocket scientist using exceptional material for targeted pressure-relief and enhanced support at the same time. The original Purple mattress recently got a makeover with new, upgraded features offering greater edge support and a Softflex™ cover for added comfort.

What’s its best feature? Purple’s comfort layer features Hyper-Elastic Polymer™ which is designed to promote proper spinal alignment and relieve pressure that could exacerbate pain. This patented technology has dynamic flexing properties so your back can remain fully stabilized while key pressure areas like the shoulders and hips can sink in where they need to.

Unlike memory foam, this material features thousands of open-air channels to provide airflow and temperature regulation that should keep you comfortable and cool. The non-toxic, durable material is built to last, supporting your budget and your back. With a 100-day trial, you can test this bed out and put their custom material to the test.

Casper Wave – Spinal Alignment

Highlights:

  • CertiPUR-US® Certified
  • 100-Day Trial
  • 10-Year Warranty
  • Designed and Assembled in the USA

The Wave is the latest innovative mattress to hit the market by the well-known brand, Casper. The ergonomic design has unique features like precision contours and targeted gel pods for comfort and support. This bed is even endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association™ for its ability to promote optimal spinal alignment, which helps to relieve lower back pain.

What stands out? The Wave was designed to mirror your body shape, with head-to-toe support through multiple layers. The foam layers should gently cradle your body, contouring precisely to your hips and shoulders to relieve excess pressure. The targeted gel pods and firm base provide the support your spine needs.

The Wave’s perforated design offers breathability with a velvety soft top layer featuring wool for moisture-wicking and comfort. This bed was designed based on feedback from customers to offer cooling, advanced support, and comfort. Casper offers a hybrid model of this bed for those looking for even further enhanced alignment features.

Helix – Customized Support

Highlights:

  • CertiPUR-US® Certified
  • 100-Day Trial
  • 10-Year Warranty
  • Made in the USA

Helix is all about customization to support your unique preferences and needs. They have a wide range of beds to choose from, with varying levels of firmness, support, and pressure relief. Instead of a “one size fits all” approach, they believe you should have a bed that’s designed specifically for you.

Helix begins by determining your needs based on a quick online survey with questions about your current quality of sleep, body shape, sleep position, and desired firmness. Next, the company offers two solutions with a custom blend of materials like pocketed micro-coils, Helix Dynamic Foam, memory foam, and a high-grade polyfoam. For couples, Helix offers the ability to split a mattress in two so you can both have the support you need.

What makes it unique? Many beds are marketed as being for “all sleepers,” but Helix is all about creating the best sleeping experience based on your individual needs. With personalized customization, you can have a mattress that is designed with you in mind.

Saatva – Classic Feel

Highlights:

  • Certified Organic Cotton
  • CertiPUR-US® Certified
  • 120-Day Trial
  • 15-Year Warranty
  • Charity Initiatives
  • Made in the USA

Saatva beds are specifically engineered for a pain-free sleep with features that target the lumbar area for enhanced back support and optimal spinal alignment. This hybrid innerspring mattress blends memory foam comfort with coil-on-coil support for a classic feel.

Why did it make the list? Saatva features back-relieving technologies like memory foam for pressure relief and active wire support in the center of the mattress for optimal spinal alignment. The plush Euro pillow top is designed to provide contouring and cushioning support for the back, hips, and shoulders so you can experience less back and joint pain and more comfort and relief.

This bed was awarded a seal of approval by The Congress of Chiropractic State Associations and is endorsed many many leading chiropractors. Choose from plush soft, luxury firm, or firm to suit your preferences and needs. With sustainable materials and an organic cotton cover, there’s a lot to love about Saatva.

Bear Mattress – Athletes

Highlights:

  • CertiPUR-US® Certified
  • 100-Day Trial
  • 10-Year Warranty
  • Children’s Charity Initiative
  • Made in the USA

Although comfortable for nearly every type of sleeper, Bear Mattress shines for athletes and active folks. The brand believes that its product will boost performance and recovery times for those who are active.

The mattress does a nice job relieving pressure while also providing bounce. It has quicker responsiveness with an inch of slightly slower-responding memory foam on top.

Why is it special? Bear uses a unique material in its cover called Celliant® that they say converts a person’s natural energy into infrared light through Infrared Yarn Technology. The company claims that it improves blood flow and tissue oxygen levels which is thought to help muscles heal faster, and we encourage you to research that science.

We are not experts in the materials that make up the Bear, so you should conduct your own research into the science behind their product if you are interested in purchasing. It appears that there have been clinical trials and FDA involvement regarding Celliant®.

Read our in depth analysis of the Bear if you want to learn more.

Sojourn – Budget Choice

Highlights:

  • CertiPUR-US® Certified
  • 120-Day Trial
  • 10-Year Warranty
  • Made in the USA

Dreamfoam’s Sojourn Gel Memory Foam mattress is our budget choice for back pain. It has a supportive eight-inch poly foam base with two layers of memory foam on top that total four inches in height.

This is a good option for people who like the feel of memory foam or need pressure relief. While less expensive innerspring mattresses may have painful coils, the foam in this budget bed has very comfortable contouring. A gel has been added to the top layer to help sleepers stay cool and to avoid the overheating some memory foam can cause.

What stands out? In addition to being a quality budget buy, the Sojourn has a true medium firmness to it. Individuals with back pain who are looking for a product in the middle of the spectrum that is not too hard or plush may find it a good fit. The 120-day sleep trial should provide adequate time to test it out with a full money-back guarantee.

Buying Considerations for Mattress Shoppers with Back Pain

Lower Back Support

Aches and pains radiating from your lower back is common for many sleepers (upper back pain is less common). However, going to sleep shouldn’t be associated with added pressure on your waist.

Now, keep in mind that firmness and support are not the same characteristics, even though quite a lot of people commonly get them confused. You can easily have a soft or plush mattress which still offers fantastic support. At the same time, if your bed is firm, it doesn’t mean that it would give poor support or lack comfort.

An adequate level of support should genuinely result from a mattress that manages to align your spine properly. At the same time, the bed should also remain perfectly comfortable. If you experience pressure, it could be because the mattress is not comfortable and you can’t seem to find the position that helps you relax.

Firmness

Firmness relates to the initial and subjective sensation that you get when you lay down on the mattress.

The question many people ask is: are firm mattresses truly better for back health issues?

Now, when it comes to back sleepers, there is an ideal firmness for most, and it is medium-firm. This means that you should aim for a new mattress that falls into that category on the firmness scale. In this scenario, ten is the extra firm setting.

This is the perfect firmness level for so many because it brings the necessary balance between the push-back support and the required softness for comfort. This should remove the pressure from your lower back and allow for a good night’s sleep.

With that said, some people tend to feel that a softer or firmer mattress is better for their back. Of course, this is somewhat individual and it is based on your sleeping style.

Another consideration to account for when determining the ideal firmness for your back pain would be your weight. For instance, the heavier you are, the more pressure your body would exert on the mattress and the more it would impact it. Therefore, you might be looking at something firmer to compensate for this sinking.

On the other hand, lighter weight people tend to stay away from those as it might get them feeling as if they are on a board on top of the mattress. They could potentially exacerbate their back issues. Also, keep in mind that most mattresses have a “break-in” period where the firmness level may change.

Want to explore the best firm mattress picks out there? We created a firm mattress buyer's guide just for you.

Ideal bed firmness for people with back pain

Back Pain Pressure Points

If there is an overly vital area to be attentive to when suffering from back pain, it’s the pressure points that an improper mattress can cause on your body. These points mean that there is extra push back to a specific area. This can cause misalignment throughout your body and your spine.

Once it has moved out of alignment, there is an increased amount of pressure placed on your spine. That’s one of the common causes of back pain. Thinking about it that way may just help you answer the question, “Is a firm mattress good for your back?” from a whole new angle.

With this said, it’s essential to ensure that you aren’t sleeping on a bed that places too much pressure on your spine. This is also true for any major joints. That’s what’s going to allow your body to rest in a relaxed state. The chance of pressure points forming along the spine as well as the lower back is diminished dramatically when the appropriate product is picked.

Pressure points are capable of causing long-term deformations and pains along your spine. This isn’t something that you can likely afford as it can quickly turn into a chronic condition.

Back pain located

How Different Mattress Types Affect Back Pain

The type of material that you chose can be determined by your current back and health condition as well as the different requirements of people who prefer to sleep on their back, side or stomach.

Before you dive into each material, we recommend checking out our comprehensive mattress buyer's guide.

Memory Foam

Memory Foam layers example

Is memory foam good for your back? Or is it causing back pain and hurting your overall back pain health?

In fact, memory foam may be your best option, so you may just need an updated product. Our research reveals that people with back problems usually prefer addressing them through memory foam solutions.

Studies indicate that the majority of people who have gone through a painful experience resulting in back pain own a memory foam mattress because this is what brings them satisfaction and pain relief. It is all due to unique properties as well as the behavior of this foam. Returning to the initial point of firm vs. soft, an important feature to consider is the density of the foam.

This is where things get a bit more complicated given the physics involved. To keep it simple – 5 PCF memory foams should provide you with optimal spinal alignment and support. On the other hand, medium density foams of 4 PCF offer a little less contouring while the low-density ones between 2 and 3 PCF are not likely to be as effective as the previous ones.

Keep in mind, though, that a lot of the modern mattresses come with various infusions to enhance the coolness as well as the responsiveness of the mattress.

Latex

latex mattress padLatex is another highly recommended material which is also regarded as one of the best options for chronic back pain issues. The most appealing thing about it is the fact that it’s more responsive than memory foam and it’s generally cooler. However, it’s also not typically quite as contouring.

Mattresses made of latex rate quite well amongst people who have back issues and about 33% of people who own a bed of this kind tend to claim that the unit has definitively provided them with pressure relief.

This is a premium material which is rather spongy. It is going to push into your body instantly which attempts to maximize its contouring capabilities. This is a highly recommended option for people who suffer from severe back pain. It is a premium option, and it is usually a bit more expensive in comparison.

Innerspring

innerspring mattress constructionNow, when it comes to innerspring options, what you need to consider is that there are orthopedic solutions that are known to offer full-body level of support. These solutions tend to take advantage of the pocket spring/coil system, which is quite popular.

These are mattresses that contain hundreds or thousands of coils, and each one wrapped individually. They act independently and on their own to enhance the contouring capabilities of the mattress. However, some can be a bit lacking in this regard when stacked against regular memory foam options.

The general rule to consider if you decide to buy a mattress of the kind is to aim for between 1,000-2,000 springs. If you weigh more than 400 pounds or so, you should consider a mattress with more than 2,000 springs or look into the gauge of the wire. This could be a great option for pain treatment, but do your research; if less coils are used, find out about the properties of the wire.

How Back Pain Affects Sleep

Hundreds of conditions can contribute to back pain, which is a pretty vague term in itself. One could be referring to the various muscles, ribs, shoulders, or any region of the spine. While this may make it hard for some doctors to provide an accurate diagnosis, the good news is that all of these conditions have some commonalities when it comes to sleep. 

Whether it’s due to tenderness on the pressure points, or soreness that makes it difficult to move, back pain contributes to sleep disturbances significantly in a variety of ways.

Disruptions

When you’re dealing with an injury, it can be difficult to get comfortable, and once you do, you’ll probably lay still while you sleep. While this is good news for your rest, it could cause the inflamed regions of your back to swell up, causing pain and potentially waking you up to move and relieve some swelling.

Longer Sleep Latency

If you struggle to get comfortable or need a mountain of strategically placed pillows to get to sleep, you probably spend a fair amount of time tossing and turning. Because of the circadian rhythm that determines the release of sleepy hormones, most of the restorative non-rem sleep occurs early in the first half of the evening. So, if you’re taking hours to fall asleep, you could be missing out on the healing time your body desperately needs to repair your injuries.

Changed Sleep Cycles

Many people take medications to help with pain management, and while they may help you fall asleep, many of them change the way you rest, altering the phases. Normally we get most of our slow-wave deep sleep in the first half of the night and go through the majority of rapid-eye-movement or REM phases in the second half of the night. This is where we dream. 

When you take opioids or other medications to help you rest, studies show these reduce the amounts of both slow-wave or restorative sleep and REM sleep, meaning you could wake up without feeling rested even if you get eight hours.

Your Spine While you Sleep

One of the main functions of the spinal cord is to maintain balance so we can walk upright and our motor controls can function properly. If you’ve ever heard someone say it’s a miracle that humans can walk upright, it’s not so far from the truth. However, it takes a lot of subconscious effort, and the spinal curve is essential for it all to work. 

Why Does it Matter?

When the body experiences trauma, like a car accident, a fall from a ladder, or slipping on the ice, the body has to find a way to accommodate the damage, heal it, and keep us walking upright. These changes can create misalignments that sometimes last for years and cause pain. 

If you’re wondering what this has to do with sleep, the answer is two-fold. One, sleeping wrong can be enough trauma to cause these issues, and two, sleeping right is a big part of healing these issues. So while those with chronic back pain might think they have a rocky relationship with sleep, the real issue might be the habits or the mattress.

Creating Optimal Spinal Alignment

When we enter slow-wave sleep, our muscles are not paralyzed like in REM (Rapid Eye Movement) periods, and we may move around. This could mean rolling around and winding up in odd sleeping positions. If you have a mattress with zoned support, this shouldn’t be a big deal as long as you don’t wind yourself into a pretzel. The mattress should do the work in letting your shoulders and hips sink in a little while supporting the spine.  

However, if you’re on an ultra-hard bed and end up on your side, you could end up messing with the spinal curve, and if you’re already dealing with pain and inflammation, this isn’t great news. 

Mattresses have come a long way in the past few years and many companies have realized the benefits of proper spinal alignment for sleep. When you’re laying on the side, proper alignment should be fairly straight, allowing the hips and shoulders to sink in slightly while supporting the middle. Mattresses that offer zoned support tend to be great at this. 

When sleeping on your back, there should be a slight curve in the spine, with support in the mid and low back, while allowing the neck to rest backward. If you live in the twenty-first century, you probably spend a fair amount of time looking at screens. Whether on your phone, a computer, or a gaming device. 

Doctors have found this creates an issue commonly called “text neck” meaning the neck juts forward unnaturally and the shoulders roll forward. To correct this problem, many doctors recommend sleeping on your back with a pillow that supports the curve of your neck, allowing the head to fall back and undo some of the day’s damage while reestablishing the cervical curve. 

Is Spinal Alignment the Most Important Factor?

Spinal alignment is certainly important, but it’s not the only factor when it comes to sleeping with back pain. Pressure relief is also important for helping you reduce pain and get to sleep. However, it’s important to find a material that relieves pressure while still allowing movement. 

If you find you’re waking up stiff and sore but feel better after you get moving, you could be dealing with swelling or inflammation in the joints or muscle tissue. While this can occur in almost any type of injury, it’s usually a sign that the injury isn’t getting motion, especially while you sleep. 

When it comes to spinal injuries or misalignments, most chiropractors and physical therapists will treat the issue by aligning the spine and increasing motion to reduce inflammation and swelling. If you can move around easily when you sleep, either to reposition or rollover, your body may be able to help aid in that process.

Why We Get Back Problems

About 80% of sleepers are likely to come across some type of lower back pain throughout their lifetime. Of course, it goes without saying that not everyone is actually affected in the same way by these issues.

However, this doesn’t mean that you should stay uninformed about them. Some have the potential to get worse over time.

There are two types of back pain that are commonly observed: Acute pain that lasts for less than about six weeks and chronic pain which is less frequent but longer lasting. This is according to the reputable Mayo Clinic. The breakdown is followed by serious research and studies carried over periods of time and a lot of back pain sufferers.

With this in mind, there are also different causes for back pain (even cancer). Here are a few common ones and some tips on how to prevent them.

Pulled Back Muscle and Lower Back Strain

Lower back or lumbar pain could result from a range of different causes. However, these are causes that are associated with the lumbar disc directly or with muscle strains. This could actually result from sudden movements, lifting heavy objects, or any other twists.

In any case, the thing that you need to do here is to get a proper and professional consultation with your doctor.

This is based on the prediction that you might have fallen into a specific situation with particular medical requirements. These might determine the firmness as well as the material type of your bed. The only person who could provide you with thorough and actionable advice on the mattress that you should get is your doctor.

And, keep in mind that this should happen only after careful and thorough examination. The source of the pain needs to be isolated and targeted properly.

Stress and Anxiety

Believe it or not, stress is likely to be the most common cause of issues with your back. It might be hard to measure the exact amount of pressure that you might be feeling, and there are quite a few studies on that matter which show that stress could cause a lack of sleep.

This means that you could be turning and tossing quite a lot through the night. The more you do so, the more susceptible you are to straining and pulling a muscle.

But that’s not the worst part – you can be more vulnerable to falling asleep in a wrong position that you are not used to. This is what could make matters worse.

There are a few things that you could do here to rectify the situation, apart from getting a proper and comfortable mattress. First, you could get a massage – this could potentially alleviate a lot of the stress that has been built up (as long as your doctor okays it). You should also eat more nourishing foods and consider exercising properly.

Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders usually entail breathing related problems, snoring, or sleep apnea (read our full guide about beds for sleep apnea). When your back is supported firmly and properly, the air can easily and freely flow to your lungs. This is going to help minimize the effects of sleep conditions of any kind, and it is also going to reduce snoring.

There are also a few different sleeping disorders that can also have an impact on your back pain.

It’s important to understand that sleeping disorders also translate to a lack of sleep. Just as with stress – you may fall asleep in a wrong position, sometimes bringing far more complicated issues.

Conclusion


Sleeping with chronic back pain can turn your evening into a nightmare. Luckily, the right mattress can help move you in the right direction towards a better night of sleep.

Remember, we don't believe there is one mattress that stands above the rest when it comes to back soreness relief. It's all about finding one that meets your personal preferences (including materials), budget, and unique pain issues.

We hope this guide was helpful to you. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to leave us a comment below!

Author: Sleep Advisor

Our team covers as many areas of expertise as we do time zones, but none of us started here as a so-called expert on sleep. What we do share is a willingness to ask questions (lots of them), seek experts, and dig deep into conventional wisdom to see if maybe there might be a better path towards healthy living. We apply what we learn not only to our company culture, but also how we deliver information to our over 12.7M readers.

Sleep research is changing all the time, and we are 100% dedicated to keeping up with breakthroughs and innovations. You live better if you sleep better. Whatever has brought you here, we wish you luck on your journey towards better rest.

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