Are "energy socks," a scam?
July 6, 2017 8:26 AM   Subscribe

I've been asked to look into these socks, for my grandmother, who's been suffering from swollen legs of late. My mom says that she saw them advertised on TV. I think it's a scam, but figured I'd ask here just to be sure.

My mom has a tendency to give credence to things I view as potential scams, like psychics and herbal supplements. I'm 95% sure this is one of those, but just wanted to check in case I might happen to be wrong.
posted by Alensin to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: No, they are not a scam, they are just being marketed in a scammy way. Compression socks are amazing for people with poor circulation, edema, etc. I love mine and they provide a lot of relief.

However, these do not seem functionally different than what you can get at a medical appliance store or Target or something. I was fitted for my first pair at an appliance store for elderly people, and that was useful (and free). Either a similar store or Target will sell you a functionally identical product, probably for less money, probably faster, definitely with an easier return.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:31 AM on July 6, 2017 [9 favorites]

Compression socks are definitely a thing but are not magic. Despite studies that show nebulous benefits, I wear a pair after I finish a long run (15+ miles) and like the way they feel on my tired legs.

I wouldn't buy from that site though. Any offer that is not available in stores is a rip-off. The pair I like is from Smartwool and are REALLY tight and take serious effort to get on and off, not sure they'd be workable for an older person.
posted by paulcole at 8:31 AM on July 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

It's not clear from their website what the supposed purpose of the copper ions is. They're probably no better than ordinary compression socks.
posted by dilaudid at 8:31 AM on July 6, 2017

I only did a quick look over the website, but these are gradient compression stockings, which are a totally legitimate treatment for people with some venous disorders. You can buy them on Amazon here without all the scammy marketing.

On preview: what darlingbri said!
posted by pretentious illiterate at 8:32 AM on July 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

They're compression socks, which are science that works. The rest is woo.

You can buy compression socks cheaper without the woo.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:32 AM on July 6, 2017 [9 favorites]

They look like regular compression socks, which can help with swollen legs. But they're obviously not literally FILLING GRANDMA'S LEGS WITH ENERGY PRODUCED OUTSIDE THE LAWS OF PHYSICS.

Get cheaper ones, and maybe insurance will even pay.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 8:32 AM on July 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

These are sold by Amazon for $20.00.
A comment: "these are the most comfortable pair of socks I've ever had on. I honestly don't know if it's the copper or the padding in the socks but my feet don't hurt nearly as bad. Will probably order more and would not hesitate to recommend to others."
posted by lungtaworld at 8:36 AM on July 6, 2017

Response by poster: Thanks for clarifying, all. Sadly, insurance isn't a likely option, as grandma's a Thai citizen visiting the US for a few months. We might just end up buying ordinary compression socks, I guess
posted by Alensin at 8:36 AM on July 6, 2017

Best answer: I've been wearing compression socks for 23 years.
  1. They do prevent blood from pooling in my legs (since I sit a lot in my wheelchair).
  2. I've been getting mine through Bright Life Direct for a decade. Their customer service will walk you through measuring her -- you need two people to get accurate measurements. They'll also help you select the best fit.
  3. There are "perfect fit" brands, which cost between US$60 - $100, and "close enough fit" brands, $18 - $50. Unless the customer service people tell you otherwise, you can get the "close enough fit" ones which are cheaper.
  4. They come in three compression strengths. Heavy weight ones are very difficult for people with typical hand strength to get on and off. Light weight ones you can buy at Target. Medium weight require some tricks, which the site explains.

posted by Jesse the K at 8:40 AM on July 6, 2017 [10 favorites]

I wouldn't hesitate to call this a scam. They've taken an already-existing, cheaper product (compression socks) and dressed it up with demonstrably false claims about the health benefits of wearing copper. This belongs in the same category as psychic energy.

Don't give them your money. They're cashing in on gullible people who don't know any better and think "copper ions" sound kind of scientific.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:46 AM on July 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

I don't think this is quite as scammy as others do -- they tout the benefits of compression socks, and other than in the name, really only reference the copper in regards to something copper might actually do -- reduce odors by preventing bacterial growth. It's not a slam dunk that this actually works in the way the many companies that make copper infused clothing say it does, but it's not inherently scammier than any other "As Seen On TV" product.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:36 AM on July 6, 2017

If pulling compression socks on and off may be an issue, there are zippered versions (links to examples).
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:31 PM on July 6, 2017

I wear them for work, HUGE difference from regular socks. I get mine at Walmart $12 pair. I recommend!
posted by patnok at 1:50 PM on July 6, 2017

My mom had some peripheral artery disease and wore compression stockings now and then. She found them much easier to put on using a stocking butler.
posted by workerant at 3:22 PM on July 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

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