As I approached the ninth green of a steeply sloping golf course
on the Sussex Downs the other evening, something extraordinary happened.
To the astonishment of my two sons, who have watched me limp between
holes with an ever-worsening grimace in recent years, I actually
began running – quite effortlessly – towards my ball.
This was a minor miracle, although only my orthopaedic surgeon,
who’s been tinkering with my clapped-out footballer’s knees for
years, will know what I mean.
Suffice to say, my right knee resembles a knot on the trunk of
a gnarled old oak tree.
It is a misshapen nobble of bones which grinds audibly with every
step because the cruciate ligaments were snapped in some long-forgotten
The shock-absorbing cartilage has completely worn away, leaving
me with chronic osteoarthritis.
Indeed, it’s only a matter of time before my right knee goes the
same way as my left, which was last year pronounced beyond repair
and replaced, painfully but effectively, with a metal prosthesis.
Or, at least, that was the bleak prognosis until my wife, Angela,
discovered the Magic Shoes.
Thumbing through our Bupa newsletter, she spotted an item about
a revolutionary type of footwear which claimed to reduce pain and
improve mobility in hobbling crocks like me.
These were said to work by realigning your body as you walked.
By altering the way we plant our feet on the floor, they take the
stress away from worn-out or damaged areas of the joints and move
it to other areas, more able to bear the load without pain.
The shoes also create mild instability underfoot, so leg muscles
and tendons – which weaken with age and injury – are forced constantly
to readjust, which strengthens them.
The shoe treatment is called APOS (All Phases of Step Cycle). It
was launched in Britain last week, but I have been using it for
Having tried just about everything to ease my serially abused knees,
including acupuncture, copper magnets, super-strength ibuprofen
and more keyhole surgery than your average locksmith (the only thing
that really worked), I approached the exercise with extreme scepticism.
It was shared by several experts I spoke to, including Dr Anthony
Redmond of the Arthritis Research Council.
‘The shoes are obviously novel, but the fundamental principles
underpinning them are not.
‘For the past 50 years there has been a fairly systematic approach
to manipulating the lower limb joints using insoles and orthotic
inserts in shoes,’ he explained.
However, he said patients suffering from joint pain had ‘nothing
to lose’ by trying them.
Walkrights, as they are known, look rather like boxing boots, with
cricket balls cut in half and stuck to the bottom of the heel and
ball of the foot.
But as the uppers are black, the soles yellow, and the pimply discs
attached to them bright pink, my daughters liken them to Liquorice
Dr Mor and Dr Avi Elbaz, the inventors of the shoes, came up with
the idea five years ago as a way of treating osteoarthritis without
Given so many suffer from knee and back pain – in Britain,
more than a quarter of the population have complained of one or
the other in the past year – they were surprised no one had
devised an effective cure. They also wanted to create something
that worked while you walked.