Research is proving field turf may be a safer bet versus grass. Although it could soon be a moot point as more and more high school and professional athletes are playing on field turf, it’s good to know the facts.
Research shows that softer turf is creating a safer playing field for athletes and decreasing the amount of accidental injuries from slips and falls.
Yesterday, I had the chance to speak with WAKR morning show host Ray Horner
about this topic. We discussed the pros and cons of field turf versus grass.
Below is an audio file and transcript of our discussion. Originally aired on 1590 WAKR-AM on Oct. 22, 2014.
HORNER: Join us as we bring in another doctor, our good friend, Dr. Joe Congeni, with us from Akron Children’s Hospital, Sports Medicine Center. And, Joe, which direction do you want to go this morning?
DR. CONGENI: Hey, Ray, did I hear you talking to somebody about preparation?
DR. CONGENI: Yeah. … All medical personnel at Children’s now, we have to go down, it’s called the PPE, your Personal Protective Equipment, [and] learn how to gown and glove and get ready for that. I just came upstairs from doing that myself.
So, everybody’s preparing all over town, and I think we’ve learned a lot in the last week about how to protect ourselves from this virus.
DR. CONGENI: In the meantime, what I want to talk about … and there really is a glaring difference, is playing on grass versus playing on field turf.
DR. CONGENI: When we go through a week like we just did — cool and very rainy — there is a big difference. And, there’s beginning to be more research. It was really kinda across the board the last time we talked about it several years ago … talking about the differences on field turf and grass.
It’s really evolved a lot and it’s almost becoming a moot point. We work with 12 high schools and 2 colleges, and 75 to 80 percent of our fall events are on field turf now. So, you know, we have teams that play 8, 9, all 10 of their football games on field turf, so there’s more and more field turf around.
But what the research seems to show is 3 things:
- No. 1: There does seem to be a slight increase in lower-extremity injuries, ankle and knee injuries, on field turf. It’s slightly increased over playing on grass. So of course, everybody would ask does that include ACLs? It does seem to appear that [there’s] a slight increase in ACLs and lower-extremity injuries on field turf over grass.
- The second point is the types of injuries [occurring]. There are more injuries from purposeful movement. In other words, athletes know where they wanna go and they’re able to go better on field turf. So, accidental injuries occur more frequently on grass.
So on grass at this time of year, there are a lot of falls and slips and people getting accidental-type injuries, like fractures. And, in fact, the overall injury rate is slightly higher on grass than field turf. So, that’s point number 2. Most of those are because of accidents because the athletes can’t always go where they want to go.
- And, No. 3, is the issue of is softer safer? A few years ago, as we talked about the generations of the field turf … we’re on the fourth generation now and they have made the turf softer with the rubber pellets or the sand-based turf. To make it softer does that make it safer for injury?
The evidence seems to [show] in the last 10 years that making it softer has made it safer. And, of course, people would ask even about the speed of the game and concussions. The thought [is] as they’ve made the field turf softer, we have made them somewhat safer.
So, those are a few things we’ve learned. It’s getting to the point that even in high school it’s somewhat of a moot point. The majority of games now are played on turf. And, it sure makes it a lot easier on the training personnel and so forth on the sidelines, rather than being in the mud the whole game.
HORNER: No doubt about it. Joe, good stuff. Thanks for coming on with us again.
DR. CONGENI: Okay, Ray. Have a great week. Thanks.
HORNER: You too. Dr. Joe Congeni, Sports Medicine Center at Akron Children’s Hospital, with us.