Artificial turf may provide a safer running surface for young athletes


April 16, 2012

Topic: Orthopaedics & sports medicine

Artificial turf may have several advantages over natural grass.

Some consumers have mixed feelings about athletic field surfaces that are not natural grass. Opinions can vary over their aesthetic as well as their safety. However, both industry stakeholders and specialists in orthopaedics & sports medicine agree that the latest models of artificial turf offer several advantages over natural grass for youth sports.

Stan Nix, sales manager for ACT Global Sports, told the Kirksville Daily Express in Missouri that older models of artificial turf were made of abrasive fibers and provided too much traction, increasing the risk of injury. Jason Berning, Missouri regional manager for AstroTurf, added that newer models include sand and rubber to simulate soil.

Ultimately, these modifications may decrease the risk of injury for young athletes. One study on NFL players suggested that athletes are more prone to getting hurt on artificial surfaces, but another investigation conducted at the college level suggested that more injuries occurred on natural grass.

Dev Mishra, a fellow of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, suggested that it's hard to apply an NFL study to younger athletes.

"If the typical youth field gets soggy and ripped up by cleats it resembles a city of gopher holes. It's an injury-creating nightmare. If that's our option I would favor one of the newer varieties of artificial turf without question," Mishra told the news source.

According to the American Chiropractic Association Rehab Council, running surfaces are a contributing factor in the development of overuse injuries, such as ligament tears.


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