In the United States, soccer pitches were mainly made of herbal grass. Nonetheless, in the recent past artificial turf has turned out to be widely used as in contrast to natural grass because of monetary and climatic reasons. For instance, some areas have poor climatic conditions, which affect the capability of the pitches to grow adequate grass. Moreover, modern-day designs of football stadiums contain a roof which makes it difficult for the grass pitches to survive. In this regard, artificial turfs are intended to resolve these challenges. Precisely, artificial turfs reduce the protection costs of the football by using 15 per cent and their utility levels are 12 times greater than natural grass (Bianco et al 1). However, reports have noted that artificial turfs are linked to higher risk of injuries among the football players.
Most of the football pitches use long-pile turf, which is made of rubber chip and silica sand. The rubber chips are intended to provide cushion while the sand s integrated to preserve the firmness. Research indicates that artificial turf in the football pitches increase the stiffness of the surface. Consequently, it raises friction between the shoe and the field surface, which cause high prevalence of surface-related injuries among the players (Fujitaka et al 2). Moreover, field stiffness disturbs impact forces and can lead to excess force in the tissues such as ligament, tendon, muscles, cartilage, and bones. In football, friction is required for swift starting, ending, slowing, pivoting, and cutting. Significantly, when there are excess frictions, the rate of injuries increases among the football players (Schneider, Hypes, and Hypes 13). Apart from player contact, the main cause of overuse injuries and trauma to players during football matches is the ground surface of the pitches. Past scholars have identified typical form of overuse injuries and trauma by the kind of pitch surface. Since the soil field turn out to be slippery following rainfall, they lead to muscle strains, sprains, and associated kind of trauma (Bianco et al 3). Artificial turf pitches raise the friction between the players’ spikes and the ground, which permits enhanced acceleration and braking. Consequently, players suffer from more robust impacts in case of a collision because of enhanced speed at which they move. Therefore, it results to a higher probable source of trauma. In this respect, various natures of pitch surfaces are linked to diverse kinds of sports injuries. Furthermore, artificial turf worsens after a particular period and its initial capacity to provide cushion decreases (Schneider, Hypes, and Hypes 17). It is believed that these depressions in the pitch conditions may influence the incidence rates of sports injuries.
Various types of research conducted in the US have revealed that the incidence rate of key injuries is higher when playing on artificial turfs than natural grass. Similar rates have been witnessed on the incidence of ligament sprains (Poulos et al 10). However, there is contradictory information from other studies performed in European football. A study conducted in the US by Fujitaka et al revealed out those football players in college experience 40 per cent more knee injuries when using artificial turf as compared to natural grass. Therefore, the research noted that players using such pitches are more likely to get hurt (Fujitaka et al 2). Therefore, it demonstrate the new material is not has higher safety standards. The study also indicated that athletes are also susceptible to these types of injuries at 1.39 times higher as compared to when they are practicing on grass. For each of 100,000 exposures, there are approximately 18 injuries among players using the artificial infill field. Comparatively, when the players use grass fields, the 14 injuries are recorded in the same number of exposures. Similar kind of results has been witnessed among players of National Football League (Schneider, Hypes, and Hypes 20).
A prospective study examining the number of football injuries in grass pitches and those in artificial turf pitches noted a difference in the incidence rate of injuries (Bianco et al 5). The researcher argued that stiffness and high friction witnessed in artificial turf field were associated with increased rate of injuries. Turf fields leads to more cases of sprains in the lower extremity. When the pitches were converted from grass, fields to artificial turfs pitches, the number of cases of trauma in the upper extremity were recorded (Fujitaka et al 5). The observation of the muscle strain in the lower extremity revealed out that following inclusion of extra rubber chips in the turfs, the new cases of muscle strain in the lower extremity reduces.
Football-related injuries are often witnessed in the lower extremity. Precisely, the research reported 13 per cent higher number of injuries among footballers using artificial turfs in their lower extremities relative to those using grass. Out of the total number of injuries in football players, the 71 per cent were recorded in the lower extremity (Bianco et al 3). Furthermore, the incidence of sprain in the lower extremities rose after change of pitch from grass to turf. The studies confirm that the number of new injuries has increased due to enhanced acceleration and braking that artificial turf provides. Scientists have established that improved acceleration and braking result to feet of the players being held on the ground surface, which subsequently cause sprains in the lower extremities. The findings of rebound tests on the vertical ball in the arena, center circle, and penalty area demonstrated expressively higher rebounds on synthetic turf in the initial years after construction (Schneider, Hypes, and Hypes 21). However, the cushion capacity reduces after the field is used for quite a while. Therefore, due to repeated utilization of the pitch over a number of years, the synthetic turf depreciates hence it loses its initial capabilities to minimize shock. As it ages, the long pile flattens, shortens, and narrows. Likewise, the rubber chips turn out to be reduced and smaller in quantity. Subsequently, the rebound of vertical ball drop heightens because of the impacts of frequent shock to the arena over the period (Poulos et al 13).
A research by Bianco et al revealed that the football-linked injuries in the upper extremity were 7.7 per cent of the entire injuries recorded in the study. The goalkeeper registered three times higher cases of injuries in the upper extremity as compared to the other players (Bianco et al 11). In fact, another study noted that goalkeepers are 5 times at risk of injuries in their arms when playing in synthetic fields than other players. In football, goalkeeper is the only player who is permitted to utilize the hands when playing. Therefore, they are at a higher risk of contacts with the ground and other players with their arms, which increase the injury rate (Schneider, Hypes, and Hypes 15). The researchers recommended regular maintenance of the artificial turfs in order to reduce injuries. Moreover, players should be regularly being trained on how to use such pitches to reduce the risks associated with injuries.
Modern football industry has witnessed increased use of synthetic turf in the pitch as opposed to natural grass. Although such innovations are cost effective, they are a source of high rate of injuries, which leads to strains, and sprains of the muscles and ligaments (Poulos et al 15). The artificial turfs are made of silica sand and rubber chip. However, after continues use, these materials deteriorates hence they are no longer capable of providing cushion (Bianco et al 11). The football player absorbs the heightened force hence causing serious injuries. The injuries can be reduced through regular maintenance of synthetic turf and training of footballers on how to use the pitch.
Bianco, Antonino, et al. “A prospective analysis of the injury incidence of young male professional football players on artificial turf.” Asian journal of sports medicine 7.1 (2016).
Fujitaka, Kohei, et al. “Effect of Changes in Artificial Turf on Sports Injuries in Male University Soccer Players.” Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine 5.8 (2017): 2325967117719648.
Poulos, Constantine CN, et al. “The perceptions of professional soccer players on the risk of injury from competition and training on natural grass and 3rd generation artificial turf.” BMC sports science, medicine and rehabilitation 6.1 (2014): 11.
Schneider, Dean, Julia Ann Hypes, and Michael G. Hypes. “Synthetic Turf vs. Natural Grass.” Journal of Facility Planning, Design, and Management 2.2 (2014).