Fact or fiction?

Does copper-infused compression clothing, adaptive wear assist in healing?

By David L. Podos

You would be hard pressed these days not to turn on the television and see commercials about copper-infused compression garments — everything from socks, T-shirts, gloves, adaptive wear for your hands, fingers, toes, and everything in between.

The claims are eye and ear catching to say the least.

These involve health benefits including reduced pain, improved mobility, and increased blood flow. They are also thought to aid in the healing process and improve overall athletic ability and stamina.

Is it too good to be true?

People wear compression stockings for comfort, to do better in sports, and to help prevent serious medical conditions, according to WebMD.

Basically, they improve your blood flow, according to WebMD. They can lessen pain and swelling in your legs, and they can also lower your chances of getting deep vein thrombosis, a kind of blood clot, and other circulation problems, WebMD claims.

There are a variety of people who use them:

—People with or at risk for circulation problems, like DVT, varicose veins, or diabetes

— People who’ve just gotten surgery

— Those who can’t leave their bed or have a hard time moving their legs

— People who stand all day at work

— Athletes

— Pregnant women

— People that spend long stretches of time on air planes, like pilots

What do they do?

The pressure these stockings put on your legs helps blood vessels work better. The arteries that take oxygen-rich blood to your muscles can relax, so blood flows freely. The veins get a boost pushing blood back to your heart. They also reduce to some extent lactic acid build-up.

Most people are somewhat familiar with compression stockings, but perhaps not its history. They were first introduced in Europe prior to World War I, and in the early 1950s were introduced to America.

The gradient compression stocking, however, didn’t appear in the United States as a modality for health until the early 1980s.

The science behind compression stockings seems to have held true and they do aid in a number of health-related issues.

Besides the stockings, there are many other compression garments like shirts, sports tights, arm sleeves, and so forth.

On the contrary

In an article written by Lauren Cooper in Consumer Reports, the author states there’s little evidence to support manufacturers’ claims about copper-infused compression garments.

“Consumer Reports has reviewed the research into the use of copper to ease pain and has found little evidence of the metal’s ability to lessen aches,” Cooper writes. A study of 70 people with rheumatoid arthritis published in the journal PLOS ONE, concluded that wearing a copper wrist strap did not help ease pain.

“There are also no reliable studies supporting the healing powers of copper-infused fabrics,” says Consumer Reports’ Medical Director Orly Avitzur. “It’s extremely unlikely that these fabrics would provide any therapeutic benefit beyond compression for arthritis or pain.”

A different viewpoint can be found on the website Yogaapproved.com.

It lists a number of health benefits from copper that relate closely to what manufacturers of copper-infused compression clothing say about their products ability to aid in health. Here are a few:

— Copper destroys and inhibits the growth of microbes, fungi and bacteria, including E. coli.

— It is a natural anti-inflammatory; copper can be used to provide relief from aches and pains caused by arthritis or inflamed joints.

— It also has bone and immune system strengthening properties. The website suggests a number of ways to absorb copper that include taking supplements, wearing jewelry and copper-infused clothing, and using copper utensils and drink ware.

Tommie Copper

Tommie Copper has been around since 2010. It is a major player amongst the numerous copper-infused compression garments and sportswear businesses. One of the marketing strategies Tommie Copper uses is famous spokespeople like Brett Favre, former NFL quarterback for the Green Bay Packers.

Here is a snippet off its web site: “Tommie Copper is the innovative leader in pain relief and recovery solutions and uses. It uses proprietary fabric and patented copper technology that provides superior comfort. Tommie Copper products are designed to be worn 24 hours a day, even while sleeping. Benefits of the compression include pain relief, muscle healing, and improved blood flow, while decreasing inflammation and swelling.”

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