Any athlete that plays a sport outdoors has opinions on artificial turf versus real grass. Depending on the sport you play, turf can affect the way you play, the game plan and the equipment you use. Because of the artificial surface, compensating for imperfections in the playing surface becomes unnecessary and the game can be played with a bit more speed and accuracy. This can also take away some of the home field advantages in amateur level games, where grass fields aren't necessarily kept in top shape and the home team might know better where small hills, divots, and dirt patches are.
The problem arises in artificial turf's inability to allow the same "give" as grass. A quick turn could prove catastrophic for a player's feet, ankles, and knees because turf doesn't allow for as much foot movement once your cleat is planted. Recent studies have shown that in both NCAA football and NFL, the rate of ACL injuries in higher on artificial turf than on grass fields. In a study conducted by the American Journal of Sports Medicine on NFL injury rates, researchers found that the injury rate of ACL sprains was 67% higher on artificial turf than on real turf. A similar study conducted on college football injury rates found that the ACL injury rate on artificial turf was nearly 1.5 times that of the injury rate on natural grass.
As I noted earlier in this blog, a game played on artificial turf can be a very different game than one played on real grass. Attributing the injuries to the turf itself may not be accurate. The increased speed of the game, varying weather conditions and footwear technology can all be contributing factors to the difference in ACL injuries on turf versus grass.
The inability to predict exactly what is causing these injuries leads us to finding ways to prevent them. Here are a few ways you can prevent injuries:
- Wear cleats with short spikes
- Practice regularly on turf to get used to the surface
- Perform a proper warm up and stretch before all athletic activities
- Strengthen knees and supported muscles with power, agility, and speed drills
- Wear a preventative knee brace
Injuries are inherent to all sports, whether or not they're played on a natural surface. Taking measures to avoid putting too much stress on vulnerable joints, such as the knees, is crucial to keeping yourself healthy and in the game.
MMAR Medical Group offers a wide range of braces and physical rehab products for sport and other injuries. Browse our store to find the best prices on braces that will help you recover from an injury or prevent one before it happens.Sources:
Hershman EB, Anderson R, Bergfeld JA, Bradley JP, Coughlin MJ, Johnson RJ, Spindler KP, Wojtys E, Powell JW. An Analysis of Specific Lower Extremity Injury Rates on Grass and FieldTurf Playing Surfaces in National Football League Games: 2000-2009 Seasons. Am J Sports Med 2012;40(10):2200-2205.
Dragoo JL, Braun HJ, Durham JL, Chen MR, Harris AHS. Incidence and Risk Factors for Injuries to the Anterior Cruciate Ligament in National Collegiate Athletic association football: Data From the 2004-2005 Through 2008-2009 National Collegiate Athletic Association Injury Surveillance System. Am J Sports Med 2012;40(5):990-995.