Sports Medicine Research: In the Lab & In the Field: Should Soccer be Played on a Grass or is a Synthetic Surface the Better Choice? (Sports Med Res)
Monday, October 21, 2013

Should Soccer be Played on a Grass or is a Synthetic Surface the Better Choice?

Incidence, Mechanisms, and Severity of Match-Related Collegiate Women’s Soccer Injuries on FieldTurf and Natural Grass Surfaces

Meyers MC. The American Journal of Sports Medicine. 2013;41;2409-2420.

Take Home Message: Within a five-year period, collegiate women’s soccer players that competed on FieldTurf surfaces suffered less injuries compared with games on natural grass.

The popularity of women’s soccer has grown over the past couple of decades. The increase in participation has been correlated with an increase in injuries. FieldTurf, a synthetic surface, is believed to be a practical option as a substitute for natural grass. However, the impact of FieldTurf on soccer injuries is unknown. Meyers evaluated differences in injuries between FieldTurf and natural grass. Female soccer athletes from thirteen NCAA Division 1A universities were followed for five years to gather information on the incidence, mechanisms, and severity of match-related soccer injuries between the two soccer field surfaces. The author modified a two-sided, single-page injury surveillance form to keep track of the injury diagnosis, treatment, and time to return to play. All regular-season conference games, nonconference matches, and postseason tournament matches were included from 2007 to 2011. The athletic trainer at each site filled out the injury surveillance form after each match completion and then faxed the forms to the researchers within 7 days of the match. A total of 797 collegiate soccer games were played, 45% on a FieldTurf and 56% on natural grass. A significantly lower amount of trauma occurred on the FieldTurf (39% of all injuries) compared with the natural grass (61% of all injuries), particularly for injuries that resulted in 7 to 21 days of time loss. When the author took a closer look at the study, he found that for many conditions the two playing surfaces had similar rates of injury. However, he found that the injury rate may be lower on a FieldTurf among various specific situations, for example, dual/deep-lying strikers, various environmental conditions, athletes wearing combination of molded conical/cleats, and older fields.

This study is important because it suggests that injury risk among collegiate women’s soccer players is lower on FieldTurf compared with natural grass surfaces. Knowing that outside environmental factors such as the age of fields or how rain/snow affects a field during play can have an impact on injury and may allow clinicians to better prepare for competitions. FieldTurf surfaces are becoming popular as a cost effective purchase for athletic departments, but are not universally accepted. The overall reduction of injuries associated with FieldTurf may reassure administrators deciding to switch from natural grass to FieldTurf. However, this study only evaluated women’s collegiate soccer, so the results should not be generalized to men, other sports, or other levels of competitions.

Questions for Discussion: Why do you think there is a lower injury rate on FieldTurf compared with natural grass? Do you think the findings would be similar if we evaluated men’s soccer, or other sports that could be played on FieldTurf and natural grass? If you presented these findings to an administrator, do you think it would convince him/her to purchase FieldTurf for their playing field?

Written by: Carolin Suon
Reviewed by: Lisa Chinn and Jeffrey Driban

Related Posts:
Playing Surfaces May Influence the Risk of Football Injuries
Incidence and Risk Factors for ACL Injuries in College Football

Meyers MC (2013). Incidence, Mechanisms, and Severity of Match-Related Collegiate Women's Soccer Injuries on FieldTurf and Natural Grass Surfaces: A 5-Year Prospective Study. The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 41 (10), 2409-20 PMID: 23942283

1 comments:

Gabriella Basile said...

With experience playing on both real grass and fieldturf I believe there is less injury on the field-turf compared with natural grass because most grass fields have uneven surfaces. Uneven surfaces make you more prone to spraining an ankle or other injuries. I think the same results will be seen in other collegiate sports and mens soccer. I believe these results would be perfect to use in talking with an administer about purchasing turf fields.

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