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Turf and Sports Related Injury

by Katharine Giannaras, Alvernia University, citizen contributor

Nov 30, 2018
Turf & Injury

One of the worst parts about being an athlete is injury. Being away from something you love in order to recover is very hard, and a career ending injury is an athletes’ worst nightmare. One of the main issues when it comes to sports related injury is the field which you play on. The purpose of turf was to be able to be used in indoor stadiums, and something that was easy to take care of. Although there are many useful and practical uses for turf, it may be more of an issue when it comes to sports related injury.

Mark Drakos, MD writes in his article Artificial Turf: Does it Increase the Risk of Sports Injuries, “Initially it (turf) was praised for durability and minimal expense for upkeep. However, the novelty was eventually replaced by skepticism. Physicians and trainers began to notice that players were injured with greater frequency on the artificial turf. These injuries included anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears, concussions, and ankle sprains” (2). All of these injuries have the potential to end an athletes career, so it is important to investigate the reason why these injuries are so common in sports.

Since more and more research has been done on turf fields the companies who make and produce them have tried to make them more like real grass. Mark Drakos wrote, “artificial turf companies have made significant strides to simulate more natural surfaces. Specifically, modern turfs are typically “infill” surfaces. The infill is composed of rubber (crumb rubber) or silica pellets…The purpose of this infill is to simulate dirt in between the blades of natural grass” (4). Making improvements to make turf more natural feeling is important for athletes and the companies. Although natural grass is the most ideal in order to prevent injury, turf tends to be more popular and cost effective.

The results from research have shown that there are two major factors that cause turf to cause more injury. Drakos writes, “Most scientists feel that there are two specific material properties of the turf which can affect injury rates: the coefficient of friction, and the coefficient of restitution” (5). Coefficient of friction is how much traction the surface has and how much force it will take for a foot on the ground to slip, and coefficient of restitution is how much shock absorption the turf has. More recent technologies have been created to fix these major issues, but there are still some flaws.

Although turf has issues, natural grass has some issues too. Overall natural grass that has been well kept is the ideal surface to play on, but turf is the most typical surface in stadiums in modern society. Companies should continue to make efforts to improve their surfaces in order to make the playing experience better for athletes and in order to reduce injury.

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