Page last updated at 08:05 GMT, Monday, 24 May 2010 09:05 UK

'These shoes were made for walking'

By Jane Elliott, video Anna-Marie Lever
Health reporters, BBC News

Stephen Hall
Stephen Hall says his walking has improved

When policeman Stephen Hall was told a pair of shoes could improve the way he walked he was sceptical.

A year on he is a convert and says he has got his mobility back.

Stephen, 47, badly injured his leg in a motorway crash in 1983, breaking and fracturing bones in his left leg.

These were repaired and he was largely pain-free until 2004.

Poor mobility

"My knee would swell up when I played sport," he said.

"It got to the stage where if I went for a sandwich at lunchtime, it would click and I'd have difficulty getting back to work.

Physiotherapist Sarah Robson gives her top tips on how to walk well

"I was told my knee was like that of a 70-year-old."

Stephen, who lives in Surrey, had a further leg operation which helped ease the problem but he still could not walk properly.

Shoe therapy

Then he saw an article about the AposTherapy system - which stands for All Phases of Step Cycle.

It claims to treat lower back and knee pain by realigning the body as it walks and introducing a mild instability, which encourages the retraining of the systems that stabilise the joints.

Specialists takes a computer 'snap-shot' of the sufferer's walking pattern and the team then provides customised high-tech footwear which is then worn for a certain length of time per day.

Sarah Robson, a Bupa physiotherapist said she had been amazed by the results and said it could theoretically be used to ease a whole host of lower leg and back problems.

I was very cynical about doing it. They look gimmicky, but they are not and they do work
Stephen Hall

"AposTherapy looks at the way you are walking and changes the distribution of weight when you are walking.

"So if you have damaged your cartilage or damaged your joint it takes the weight slightly away from those areas so that reduces your pain and makes it easier for you to walk. Also there are pods in your footwear to stimulate the muscles."

But others are less convinced.

GP Professor Martin Underwood from Warwick Medical School. who specialises in treating musculoskeletal pain said he felt the cost - £3,000 for non-Bupa members - was very high.

And he said he would like to see more data on its efficacy - there have been some studies published, but these are only on small numbers of patients.

"It is plausible that it might work and you can see ways in which selected patients it might make a difference," he said.

"It is an interesting idea that might have merit, but at present there is not the evidence to recommend its use."

'No gimmick'

Stephen however said he could not praise them too highly.

The Apos shoe
The Apos shoe can be tailored to the individual

"I was very cynical about doing it. They look gimmicky, but they are not and they do work.

"It has become a routine: I put them on when I come to the office and tend to wear them for several hours.

"They train your legs to walk correctly.

"I play golf and have started playing cricket again and can swim and can have a kick about with my son.

"My quality of life is far better."



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