No, Tommie Copper compression wear is not New Age and the claims made about its effectiveness are largely exaggerated.
For those who have never heard of it, Tommie Copper is a brand of compression apparel that is said to be made out of a proprietary fabric that is infused with copper and zinc which is worn to relieve pain in the knee, elbow, wrist, ankle and calf. The apparel comes in the form of fingerless gloves, wide bands, shorts, tights and socks.
The product line was developed by Tom Kallish, a so-called “weekend warrior” who was looking for relief from chronic arthritis pain after a serious water skiing accident. He tried all kinds of compression wear but found most of the products to be bulky and uncomfortable. A veteran of the textile industry, he decided to create his own and infused it with copper which he believes acts as a catalyst for natural healing.
The kind of copper used in his products, known as therapeutic copper compression (TCC) combines “a patented 56% percent copper-infused nylon yarn with a proprietary multi-directional compression technology.”
The company’s website offers no scientific proof for any of its claims, but that doesn’t stop it from insisting that copper has been used for thousands of years to help reduce inflammation, sustain connective tissue, and aid in blood flow and oxygen transport.
Kallish's pricey line of compression gear can set you back $59.50 for a shirt, $44.50 for a full-arm sleeve and $29 for a pair of women’s socks.
So is this stuff worth the premium price tag?
According to Truth in Advertising (TINA), no.
“In short, there seems to be some science, and then a lot of exaggeration,” the site reports.
Copper does indeed have an ancient history, such as how early seafarers used it to line their ship bottoms because of its anti-bacterial qualities, but there are no studies proving that it relieves arthritis pain. In fact, there is even some debate about whether or not copper actually aggravates inflammation rather than relieves it.
While it is true that prescription compression gear has medical uses, such as to aid circulation, there is not much in the way of evidence to prove that it aids performance or helps with joint pain.
TINA’s recommendation about Tommie Copper? “ . . . (T)hink carefully before shelling out extra money for pain relief from costly copper clothing.”