What do football, rugby, soccer, baseball, and lacrosse all have in common? They’re all sports that involve a grass field of some sort. Of course, most of the grass on these sports fields is artificial turf that has been scientifically engineered to be more durable than regular grass. After all, it’s going to take a beating as the athletes run, jump, twist, and dive.
But did you know that the type of grass used can also increase or reduce the risk of injuries? According to a team of researchers from Idaho State University in Pocatello, ID, artificial grass (turf) with a higher infill surface weight led to a significant decrease in sports injuries.
The researchers examined data from 52 high schools in four states, collecting injury information from 2010 to 2014. The types of infill systems used (usually rubber and/or sand) were divided into four categories, according to their surface weight (pounds per square foot).
The data showed that fields with an infill weight higher than 9lbs per square foot led to “significantly lower” injury rates. The lower the surface infill weight, the higher the risk of injury. According to the lead author’s recommendation, high school football (and other sports) fields should use an infill weight of at least 6lbs per square foot. Doing so will reduce the risk of injuries significantly.
If high schools, colleges, and professional athletic organizations take this recommendation to heart, it could mean a serious improvement in the overall quality of life for athletes. Injuries can cost NFL teams millions of dollars, and can make even the most competent teams lose their forward momentum during the competitive season. If even small changes can reduce the risk of injuries, all sports organizations should be motivated to make them. It will reduce medical treatment costs as well as help players to continue playing for years to come.
1. American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. “Composition of artificial turf surfaces key to preventing high school football injuries.” ScienceDaily, 8 July 2016.