It may matter which shoes athletes wear on artificial turf

May 30, 2013

Topic: sports medicine

It may matter which shoes athletes wear on artificial turf

Some athletes regularly play on artificial turf as opposed to natural grass. These low maintenance landscapes are designed to withstand aggressive sports play, but if athletes are not donning the right shoes, they may be more prone to injury on these artificial surfaces. 

According to the a sports medicine literature review, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the kind of cleat an athlete has can influence his or her risk of injury. Common mishaps on artificial turf include those of the feet, toes and knees, as well as concussions.

"Optimal shoe-playing surface conditions may be level and sport-specific," said Mark Drakos, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon and lead study author. "The shoe-playing surface interface is a modifiable risk factor for injury, and further research is needed to improve playing conditions for athletes of all levels."     

When it comes to shoes, factors such as the sole type, cleat material and configuration, as well as the number and size of the shoes, can make a significant difference. 

The authors of the study specifically discussed an athlete's torque - his or her foot movement and movement force. Most sport shoes' cleats have a higher peak torque on synthetic grass compared to natural grass. In addition, sole material and cleat pattern can also affect torque. For instance, small cleats place lower amounts of pressure on the foot than big cleats, therefore reducing the chance that stress fractures of the foot may occur when the wearer is playing on artificial turf. 

Research such as this can help coaches and healthcare providers recommend the best type of shoe for athletes playing on artificial turf to reduce their likelihood of suffering an injury on the field. 

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