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The Best Foot Massager


We spent more than 60 hours conducting focus groups, testing our finalists and speaking with doctors (including the nationally recognized Dr. Mark Rapaport) to determine that the RENPHO -Shiatsu is the best foot massager on the market. It combines effective shiatsu-style massage techniques with adjustable air compression for the most personalized experience. We also found the MedMassager – 11 Speed to be highly effective for individuals who are most interested in improving circulation in their feet and legs. Read on to learn more about how we determined which massagers were best overall, and which factors we included in our final decision.

Our Top Choices

Our Top Pick



Best for Circulation


11 Speed

We spent more than 60 hours conducting focus groups, testing our finalists and speaking with doctors (including the nationally recognized Dr. Mark Rapaport) to determine that the RENPHO -Shiatsu is the best foot massager on the market. It combines effective shiatsu-style massage techniques with adjustable air compression for the most personalized experience. We also found the MedMassager – 11 Speed to be highly effective for individuals who are most interested in improving circulation in their feet and legs. Read on to learn more about how we determined which massagers were best overall, and which factors we included in our final decision.

Table of contents

How we picked our test products

When we first started researching the electric foot massagers market, we discovered that there were lots of products available, but relatively few that were highly-regarded. This meant that the first step was eliminating products that had significantly negative reviews on Amazon.

We also limited our focus to foot massagers that were mentioned positively on forums, professional reviews, and Reddit threads. Finally, we spoke with Dr. Rapaport — a nationally-recognized doctor with experience in psychology, behaviorial science, and the benefits of massage therapy — as well as other doctors who helped us determine which electric foot massagers (as well as which neck massagers) were best suited to have a positive impact on health.

We also strongly prioritized massagers with heating functionality — however we did make an exception for the MedMassager, both because of the significant number of positive reviews it had as well as the fact that it is designed to work differently than Shiatsu and heat-based foot massagers.

Once we narrowed the list, we looked for massagers that had the best combination of features and specs, and ordered the five products from that curated list to test in our office.

Compare the best foot massagers

  1. RENPHO – Shiatsu
  2. MedMassager – 11 Speed
  3. Relaxzen – Shiatsu
  4. uComfy – Shiatsu with Heat
  5. Best Choice Products – Shiatsu
  6. 3Q – with Heat
  7. Homedics – Deep Kneading Shiatsu

How we tested

Once we had our list of five finalists, we assessed each of them individually based on a number of criteria, including ease of use, effectiveness, and features offered. We also took weight, portability, and power usage into account.

feature comparison chart

In general, we were looking for foot massagers that were easy to operate, comfortable on our feet, and had a substantially positive impact on how our feet felt after five to 10 minutes in the massager.

Secondary metrics we looked included the power usage of each foot massager while in use, the weight of each massager, whether the massagers had a handle for easier portability, and whether there was an automatic shutoff built in.

While these features did have an impact on our selection of finalists as well as our top picks, they were secondary to the actual operation and benefits of each electric foot massager.

Foot massage focus group

During testing, we realized that massaging preferences can be fairly subjective. Some people prefer intense ones that really get the knots out, while others prefer a more gentle and soothing massage; possibly with some heat to relax their muscles.

While we did our best to assess each machine as objectively as possible, ultimately we realized that having a larger sample size, which included a wider range of people, would help us find the best possible product.

We came up with five different metrics and asked 10 people to rate each of the electric foot massagers on a scale of one to 10 using those metrics. We also made sure each person had walked a lot that day, and felt like they could really use a foot massage.

focus group reults


For this category, we asked each member of the focus group to rate the appearance of the foot massager. If they were to own the massager in question, would they put it somewhere easily visible in a living room or bedroom, or hide it away when not in use?

User Friendliness

For the user friendliness rating, we asked each member of the focus group to describe how easy it was for them to figure out how to use the massager. This included both turning the massagers on and off as well as adjusting the massager to their desired settings.


We distinguished “comfort” from the “pain relief” metric. For comfort, we asked our focus group to limit the rating to their comfort without the massagers turned on.

Pain Relief

This is the key measurement, and was used to compare how each person felt before and after they used the foot massager.

Want to use it again?

We used this metric as a way to gauge the “overall” score each member of our focus gave to the massagers. We specifically asked them not to consider the cost when providing this rating.

The results of the survey made it clear that the RENPHO – Shiatsu was the favorite when taking into account all categories. Our testers found it to be the most attractive looking massager, the most comfortable and very user friendly.

The Relaxzen was a close runner up, ranking as well as the RENPHO in terms of aesthetics and pain relief. It ranked highest of our finalists in terms of being user friendly. However, our testers found it less comfortable than our top choice and were less likely to use it again.

The MedMassager also stood out for the significant pain relief it offered — even if the aesthetics were rated lower than average by our panel of testers.

2019 update

We originally chose the Brookstone as our top pick, but it has been discontinued since we first published this article. For our update, we once again read through professional reviews, Reddit threads and Amazon reviews to find an additional three products to test in our office.  

A focus group of four testers of varying ages (one of whom had completed a 5k the same day) provided us with their impressions and numerical rankings of the additional products. We compared these with the scores of our original models to determine our top choice.

Important features to consider

If you decide to purchase a foot massager, the first step is to determine what the primary purpose of the massager will be. If you’re getting one for a specific medical condition — such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or an inflammatory disease like arthritis — there are certain features you’ll want to make sure your choice includes.

If, on the other hand, you simply want a foot massager as a way to relax after a long day, you can be a bit more flexible about which massager you choose. You may want to consider an anti-fatigue mat for all-day standing relief. Insoles may help relieve the source of your pain too. See our insoles review to see if its something else you should add.

Once you know the primary purpose of what you’re looking for, the next step is to find the one that offers the features you want. Some of the features you should think about include:

  • Does the massager heat up?
  • Are there intensity settings?
  • Is the massager easy to carry?
  • How noisy is the massager?

You’ll also want to decide whether you want a foot massager that is designed to improve circulation in your foot, or more of an “all-purpose” option. If your top priority is improving circulation, the MedMassager is hands-down the best massager on the market. This one uses a design that oscillates a platform to massage instead of Shiatsu style rollers.

If you want more of an all-purpose massager, it’s worth looking into the specific features and settings of each machine. In general, a product that provides heating, variable levels of pressure, and a shiatsu-style massage will be effective for general wellness.

It’s also worth considering the weight and portability of the foot massager as well — particularly for the elderly or those with health conditions. Having a handle can make a massager significantly easier to move around, and of course the lighter a product is, the easier it is to move around when needed.

One interesting consideration that we didn’t realize until we started testing was the challenge of using MedMassager in an apartment, hotel, or anywhere else that your floor is someone else’s ceiling. That’s because the MedMassager works by creating fairly strong vibrations — which can potentially be felt, and heard, from the floor below.

The health benefits of massage

In order to learn more about the benefits of massage, we spoke with Dr. Mark Rapaport of the Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Rapaport has an extensive history of studying how massage helps, and is the Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University.

Dr. Rapaport also has more than 180 articles published in peer-reviewed publications and has received grants from nationally recognized organizations, including the National Institute of Mental Health.

We spoke with Dr. Rapaport on the phone, and got some great insight into the significant and wide-ranging impact of massages on the mental, physical, and psychological health.

General benefits

According to Dr. Rapaport and the research studies he has published, massages have a number of substantial health benefits. These range from reductions in anxiety and irritability to a decrease in unhealthy levels of cortisol. Massage can also modulate immune function and increase levels of the “feel-good” hormone oxytocin.

Massage therapy is increasingly recognized as a powerful medical treatment, with benefits for everyone from cancer patients to reducing post-pregnancy discomfort. Even if you’re in great health, massage can significantly increase your quality of life.

According to Dr. Rapaport, massage in healthy individuals can decrease allergic responses and potentially harmful inflammation in the body, and can even improve temporary bouts of depression in otherwise healthy individuals.

Medical benefits

For individuals who have particular medical needs, massage can have an even more profound impact. For example, women who have recently given birth via “Cesarean section” (otherwise known as a C-section), can experience significantly lowered levels of anxiety and pain.

Individuals with severe flus and other systemic infections benefit from massages due to an increase in lymphatic flow, which helps to flush out the disease more quickly. This is also the case for terminally-ill individuals who are receiving palliative care.

Perhaps most interesting impact massage has on individuals suffering from one of the many forms of cancer. According to the doctors we spoke to and several peer-reviewed studies, massage has a statistically significant impact on the vital signs of cancer patients.

According to Dr. Rapaport, a NIH study studying fatigue in cancer survivors also indicated a marked decrease in fatigue and other symptoms. Those studies are being followed up with a more detailed look into inflammatory markers, and how massage might improve those as well.

The bottom line is this: massage has been unequivocally proven to have substantial health benefits both for healthy individuals, as well as those with a wide range of medical conditions.

The health benefits of foot massage

One concern that people considering a foot massager bring up is whether a mechanical option can effectively do the job of an actual massage therapist.

While there are certainly benefits associated with having an actual person performing the massage, the doctors we spoke to said that many of those translate to mechanical foot massagers as well.

In fact, since the specific massages are complex, and the shiatsu/oscillation is so well programmed in certain mechanical massagers, in some cases individuals can be even better off with a mechanical option.

That being said, a highly-trained massage therapist will always be better than a mechanical massager. But when comparing the one-time cost of a foot massager to a massage therapist, it is certainly more cost-effective to have a mechanical foomassager — if nothing else than to supplement relatively infrequent massages from a licensed therapist.

Best overall: RENPHO – Shiatsu Renpho - Shiatsu massager

When choosing products to test for our 2019 update, we knew we wanted at least one finalist with features similar to our original top pick (which has since been discontinued). Just like our original choice, the RENPHO – Shiatsu effectively combines Shiatsu-style rollers with air compression and heat to relax the muscles in your feet and remove tension that built up during the day.

The RENPHO ranked nearly equal in comparison to the Brookstone by our panel of testers. Even before we tallied the final scores, the impression this model left on our testers made us fairly certain it would earn the highest ranking. They liked the way it looked and the customizable experience meant that each of our testers found their own “sweet spot” after playing with the varying modes.

The touch buttons are large enough and spaced far enough apart that you can easily control them with your feet. However, our testers preferred the remote control. The programmable settings –low, medium and high–are straightforward and easy to understand.

When you combine the variables of kneading intensity and air compression, the RENPHO caters to all users. Those who prefer a strong massage might combine a high intensity with high air compression, while those who are more sensitive might prefer low or medium settings.  

Top Pick: RENPHO - Shiatsu

Ranked highest by our focus group, the varying selections in terms of kneading intensity, air compression and heat gives the user a customizable massage experience. It has a nice aesthetic and is easy to move from room to room.

At only eight pounds, the RENPO is easy to move from room to room. Our testers liked the aesthetics, saying they would be willing to leave it out in the living room if they were having company over. It’s easy to clean, with a hard plastic shell that can be wiped down.  The cloth cover (where you insert your feet) is detachable and machine washable.

One thing to note is that while it can accommodate different size feet with no adjustments needed, it reaches its limit at a men’s size 12. Two of our testers who wear a men’s size 12 reported that the space was just big enough to fit their feet, and was a little tight getting inside.


The RENPHO is priced moderately compared to our other finalists, and consistently scored high across the board in our focus group. In fact, the average score of 8 was far ahead of the rest of the pack, with Relaxzen coming in second place with an average score of 7.8, and the overall average for the seven massagers coming in at 6.9.

Our testers agreed that while the size might necessitate putting the RENPHO away before guests arrive, the design was attractive enough to leave it out and the massager could seamlessly integrate into any room.

User friendliness

When researching products, we found that some had needlessly complicated controls and functionality. While customizability and flexibility are valuable, overdoing it on something relatively simple like a electric foot massager adds more difficulty than benefit.

Operating this machine was fairly straightforward, with clearly marked low, medium and high settings for knead and air intensity. Heat is as simple as turning on and off, and the time setting is color coded to easily determine which setting (15 or 30 minutes) is on. The remote control corresponded exactly to the settings on the massager, with LED lights to see which setting is active.

Everyone in our focus group had an easy time using this foot massager, which is why it had the second-best score among our finalists (behind only the Relaxzen and tied with the MedMassager).


The lining is fairly comfortable, although the polyester fabric isn’t as plush as the Relaxzen. You can feel the massagers underneath your feet before you turn it on, but they aren’t knobby. Our testers used it without socks for a fair comparison with other finalists; however, the manual recommends wearing socks (which does make it more comfortable). The massager as a whole received a score of 8.1 out of 10 for comfort. While that seems slightly low for a top pick, it was the best scoring massager overall, and was well-above the average of 7.0.

Pain relief

Pain relief is one area where this machine particularly shined, and was one of the primary factors in our naming it our winner. After all, the purpose of a foot massage is to make your feet feel better.

When we used the foot massager, the consensus was that the air compression and the Shiatsu-style kneading massage worked particularly well to improve blood flow and relax the muscles. After about 5 minutes using this machine, we felt pretty great.

Our impressions were backed up by the focus group as well. This massager earned a score of 8.9 out of 10 from our 10-person focus group, which was the highest rating of all the remaining finalists.

Want to use it again?

With all four of the other metrics ranking so high, it came as no surprise that our everyone in our focus group was interested in trying it again in the future — leading to a score of 9.6 out of 10.

Before conducting the focus group, we already had this foot massager marked as our likely top pick based on our own testing and assessment. However, with a total score of 43.7 out of 50 in our focus group, the RENPHO’s place as our top pick was solidified.

Things we didn’t like

Overall, we found this massager to be the best option available. While it was relaxing, there were a couple of issues we noticed while testing that are worth mentioning.

The most significant issue is that it takes a while for the heat to fully activate. During our testing, we noticed that it took about 30 seconds to start heating up, and another minute and a half (for a total of two minutes) before the heat was significant enough to have a positive impact.

For a foot massage that might only be five to 10 minutes, this is somewhat of an issue. Our solution was to let the massager heat up for about a minute before putting our feet in, which was an effective workaround.

While we would have preferred that the massager heat up more quickly, it is reasonable to expect heat to take some time to turn on, and none of the other massagers we tested were any better.

Finally, those with big feet might not be comfortable with this machine. The massager itself is rated to fit individuals with shoe sizes up to 12.5, however two of the people in our focus group had a shoe size of 12 and mentioned that it felt a little too “snug”.

This massager is an excellent choice, and is easily the best foot massager we tested thanks to its effective foot massage technique, attention to style and aesthetics, and comfort and usability.

Key takeaways:

  • The RENPHO – Shiatsu foot massager was our top pick thanks to its effective foot massage technique.
  • The massager is easy to use, with clearly marked buttons.
  • The only significant downside is the size limit, fitting only up to a men’s size 12.

Best for circulation: MedMassager – 11 Speed

MedMassager massager

The MedMassager is very popular online and is frequently recommended by doctors as a way to improve circulation in the feet.

Unlike the other massagers we tested, this device uses oscillations to stimulate the skin and muscles to improve circulation instead of Shiatsu-style kneading massage with rollers. This results in a distinctly different foot massage experience.

This device has 12 settings, one through 11 and an “off”, which makes operation fairly straightforward. Operating the massager is as simple as twisting the knob to the desired intensity and putting your feet on the rubber pad. This machine has many intensity levels but it only has one oscillating motion, and no heat function.

According to the company that makes the MedMassager, the massager’s lowest setting operates at 1,000 RPM and the highest operates at 4,000 RPM. This means there is significant variance between each of the settings, making it easy for anyone to choose one that is right for them.

When first using this, we found that the oscillations were a little intense and took some getting used to. However, once we got past the initial surprise, there was no question this massager was relaxing the muscles not only in our feet, but in our lower legs as well.

One feature that is often overlooked is the “Arch Bar” located across the top of the massager. According to the doctors we spoke to, this bar is used to directly stimulate the tendon in the arch of the foot — known as the plantar tendon.

For individuals that have periodic or frequent foot and leg cramps, the stimulation of this tendon can provide significant relief. Even if you don’t have cramps or another medical condition (such as in our case) using the bar felt great.

One other minor detail that we appreciated was the fact the company has their website and phone number printed on the top of the massager.

Best for Circulation: MedMassager - 11 Speed

Using oscillation instead of rollers, it's the best product for improving circulation in the feet and legs.

While they won’t be earning any style points for that one — especially when compared to the Brookstone — it is useful to have that information available for those who have questions or problems with their massager. For the elderly or sick, this can be a particularly significant convenience.

Finally, this device has excellent build quality, which means it will last for many years. In fact, the it comes with a one-year warranty, with an option to purchase a three-year warranty for $29.99, or a lifetime warranty for $39.99.

Even if you choose not to purchase the extended warranty, the fact that such a robust one-year warranty is included speaks volumes about the quality of the MedMassager.

While this machine isn’t as relaxing or “therapeutic” as our top pick, the Brookstone foot massager, we felt quite relaxed once we were done with our 10 minute session.

Things we didn’t like

While there are plenty of positive things to say about the MedMassager, there are a few negatives that stood out to us during our testing and focus group.

The first, and perhaps most significant issue is primarily limited to individuals that live in apartments (or anywhere else that your floor is someone else’s ceiling).

Since the this deviceworks by oscillating at a very rapid rate, vibrations are also transferred to the floor. What was surprising was just how significant those vibrations could be, to the point that we could feel them even when standing 15 feet away.

If you live in an upstairs apartment, the oscillations could be prohibitively loud and irritating for your downstairs neighbors — particularly if the floors aren’t that thick. If you do decide to get one of these and you live in an apartment, make sure you ask your downstairs neighbor if they can hear when the massager is being used.

Another design feature we would have liked to see was a handle. Unlike the Brookstone electric foot massager, the MedMassager doesn’t have an easy way to carry it. That, in conjunction with its 11 pound weight, could pose a problem for some users.

Finally, the it’s a specialized product. That has several implications, such as a lack of a heat function and just a general inability to be an all-purpose foot massager. This device is great for those who are looking for exactly this type of product, but others might find it lacking in certain respects.

Focus group results for MedMassager

This one came in second place, with a final score of 38.5 out of 50. The areas where the it was weakest were in aesthetics and comfort, with a score of 6.8 and 6.1 respectively.


With its utilitarian appearance and somewhat-tacky large-font phone number printed on top, looks like it would be better suited for a doctor’s office instead of a living room. That’s because for most of the product’s history it was used in a doctor’s office.

The MedMassager has been used by doctors, physical therapists, and other medical professionals for years. It’s only relatively recently that this device has been marketed directly to consumers.

While this led to a somewhat weak “aesthetics” score, it’s worth noting this device’s appearance is also a reflection of the trust medical professionals have placed in it over the years.


Compared to the Brookstone, as well as the other foot massagers we tested, the MedMassager is not as comfortable. This is largely due to the fact that the other foot massagers we tested allow you to sit back with your feet flat, whereas this one is set up on an angle.

Again, this is a reflection of the MedMassager’s primary role as a medical device in the past, so it’s worth taking the 6.1 comfort score with a grain of salt. That being said, if you’re looking for a purely relaxing, “spa-like” foot massager, the MedMassager might not be the way to go.

User friendly

One area where the this device particularly stood out in our focus group was it’s user friendliness score At 9.1 out of 10, this was the highest user friendly rating of all the massagers we tested — including out top pick, the Brookstone.

This rating matches our own assessment of the MedMassager. Operation is extremely straightforward, with a single knob turning anywhere from off to 11 for varying degrees of intensity.

MedMassager controls

Pain relief

Despite its simple operation, the MedMassager proved to be effective at pain relief; as reflected in its 8.2 out of 10 score. Once again, the MedMassager was second only to the Brookstone (9.2).

One frequent comment from our focus group was that the pain relief from the MedMassager was mostly noticed after the massager was over. This stands in contrast to the other massagers, which provided pain relief right from the beginning.

The MedMassager is an excellent — if somewhat specialized — foot massager. If you’re looking for a foot massager that improves circulation, this one should be at the top of your list.

Key takeaways:

  • The MedMassager is the best for improving circulation
  • The massager doesn’t have certain important features, such as a carrying handle, a heat function, or kneading massage capabilities.
  • This device is the most specialized of the massagers we tested, which means it is ideal for those who need its specific features, but won’t be right for everyone.

The other products we tested

The remaining three foot massagers we tested all had one thing in common: they were decent, but not outstanding, products. There wasn’t anything glaringly wrong with them, but they didn’t excel neither.


Relax Zen

The Relaxzen was our second-highest rated massager in the aesthetics category; it looks like a pair of soft slippers and all our testers agreed they would feel comfortable leaving it out in a living room or bedroom. If you’re looking for a foot massager on a budget, this would be our recommendation.

The mechanics are more simplistic than our other finalists. The only variables it offers are a change of direction and the choice of adding heat. Our focus group gave it only a 6.75 rating for comfort, but it rated slightly above average with a score of 8 for pain relief.

Best Choice Products

Best Choice Products - Shiatsu

Our focus group testers jokingly referred to the Best Choice Products – Shiatsu as “Darth Vader” due to its sleek black appearance. Its heavy weight and large size made it less aesthetically appealing than our top pick, although one tester pointed out that it would fit right in with a modern design nail salon. It rated average for all categories, with mostly scores of 7 across the board. It has an open toe design, meaning that you don’t have to place your toe in an enclosed space as with some of our other finalists.  

One issue we noted was that the remote control needed to be held very close to the panel in order to change the settings. The terms on the remote control and the device control panel don’t align; it took some deduction to figure out that “personality” on the remote control was the “custom” setting on the device.

Overall, the Best Choice offers a decent massage and is easy enough to use but our focus group were relatively lukewarm about this model.

foot massager runners up units


The uComfy did an all-around decent job. Its appearance is fine, but feels somewhat dated, and the foot massage itself was close in quality to the Brookstone. However, the controls on this device didn’t work great, and there wasn’t much variation between the settings.

In our focus group, the user friendliness score was 6.8, which was towards the bottom of the list. It performed in the mid-seven range for the rest of the metrics, and was the closest of the remaining three to be considered an “honorable mention”.

Homedics Deep Kneading

We were disappointed by the Homedics massager because there were several very positive reviews. It is the simplest and most straightforward device we tested featuring Shiatsu style kneading massager rollers. However, we found the quality of the massage to be underwhelming.

The underwhelming foot massage was also supported by our focus group, which gave the Homedics massager a comfort and pain relief rating of 5.1 and 5.5 respectively.


The 3Q was similar to the uComfy in the sense that the controls don’t offer much variation. Features are basically limited to turning kneading, air pressure, and heating on or off without any variation in intensity. There are also two programs to choose from, without any description about how they differ.

In the focus group, the 3Q received a score of 6.5 out of 10; the lowest of all our finalists. We think this score matches with our own experience as well.

Discontinued products

Brookstone – Shiatsu

We originally named the Brookstone – Shiatsu our top pick, but it is no longer available. In addition to looking the best, it was easy and straightforward to operate and provided the right amount of pressure and intensity on pressure points on our feet. Shiatsu-style rollers, air compression and heat work together to knead out muscle tightness in the feet and promote overall relaxation. Unsurprisingly, our top pick for the 2019 update possesses similar features.

The bottom line

The health impact of foot massagers are significant and scientifically proven. Whether you are an average healthy adult or you’re recovering from a pregnancy or even a chronic illness, foot massagers can improve your blood pressure and circulation, reduce unhealthy levels of cortisol from your body, and provide you with a general sense of well-being.

The other three products we tested did an acceptable job. However, if you’re going to spend $100 or more on a foot massager, we think its worth getting a product that will perform well for many years.

At the time of publishing this article, the RENPHO – Shiatsu falls in the middle price range of the massagers we tested. Given its higher ratings in terms of above average ratings in every category we considered, we think it is more than worth it. This is especially true given the adjustable settings and strong ability to personalize the experience, more so than our other finalists.

If you want a more medically-focused product and aren’t as concerned about getting the “spa treatment”, the MedMassager is a proven product that has been used by doctors and physical therapists for years to improve circulation.

If you enjoy relaxing to massages from time to time, or have a medical condition which requires regular massages, foot massagers can be a valuable and cost-effective supplementary device.

Top Pick: RENPHO - Shiatsu

The RENPHO rated above our other finalists for aesthetics, comfort and pain relief. It allows you to adjust the intensity and air compression to your individual preference, for a more personalized experience than other massagers we tested.

Bryan Vu, Editor

Bryan is our cooking and kitchen expert, with more than 15 years of experience of cooking and testing kitchen products. When outside of the kitchen, he enjoys woodworking, photography, videography and figuring out how to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. He thoroughly enjoys discovering the best, whether it’s ingredients or equipment, and finding products that can stand the rigors of daily use.

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