Playing On Artificial Turf
Playing on artificial turf is a growing phenomena in many schools and for recreational sports. Although there are benefits to playing on such surfaces, there are also important considerations that ought to be made.
What is Artifical Turf?
It is a surface manufactured from synthetic fibers, and is made to look like natural grass. Granulated rubber/ silicon sand fills the base. This absorbs excess water making the turf ideal to play on during bad weather, so there is no such thing as a ‘bad’ or muddy field day.
Common Injuries Associated With Playing On Artificial Turf
In addition to the advantages of artificial turf, there are some downsides and common injuries associated with playing on artificial turf:
1. Astro Burns
Plastic is used for synthetic grass. Therefore, there is greater friction between the skin and the grass surface. When one slides onto the artificial turf, abrasions are much more serious as compared to grass grazes.
Cover yourself properly, or consider moisturising exposed skin surfaces. This especially if your sport activity involves diving or sliding on the artificial turf. This is to protect it.
2. More Prone To Heat Exhaustion
Playing under the sun during a hot afternoon sun can result in more incidences of dehydration and in more severe cases heat exhaustion. The base of the artificial turf is filled with granulated rubber, which absorbs more heat from the sun. This makes playing on turf extremely hot and a potentially unbearable experience.
Avoid playing on the synthetic turf under the afternoon heat. Ensure you hydrate well, and take in fluids and food rich in K+, Na+ such as bananas and isotonic drinks. Hydrate well before, during and after the game. These are important if playing at such times cannot be avoided.
Look out for signs of heat exhaustion such as cold sweat, clammy palms, pale skin and feeling faint!
3) More Lower Limb Injuries Associated With Artificial Turf
Based on studies done, there are no significant differences between the incidence of injuries on artificial turf and natural grass. However, there is a common trend towards more prevalence of lower limb injuries namely, ligament injuries in knee and ankle sprains.
There is more friction on the synthetic turf. Thus, the base of the footwear may get caught on the turf. This results in torsional and twisting injuries to the ankles and knees.
Proper footwear such as turf shoes are advisable whilst playing on turf ground.
Moreover, the feel is very different when playing on an artificial turf surface. Conduct proper warm up and training on the artificial turf before playing an actual game.
2) Michael C. Meyers, Incidence, mechanisms and severity of game-related college football injuries on field turf verus natural grass. A 3 year prospective study. Am J Sports Med April 2010 vol. 38 no. 4 687-697
3) Kathrin steffen, Thor Elnar Andersen, Roald Bahr. Risk of injury on artificial turf and natural grass in young female football players. Br J Sports Med 2007;41:i33-i37 doi:10.1136/bjsm.2007.036665
4) Michael C. Meyers, Incidence, mechanisms and severity of game-related college football injuries on field turf verus natural grass. A 3 year prospective study. Am J Sports Med October 2004 vol. 32 no. 7 1626-1638