The goal of this investigation was to determine if playing or training on third-generation artificial turf (AT) surfaces increases the incidence rate of injuries compared to natural grass (NG) surfaces. This was accomplished by a meta-analysis performed on previously published research. Eight studies met the criteria of competitive soccer players, participation on both surfaces, and presentation of both exposure time and injury occurrence.
Leg injuries in general (not just sprains) were the only way I could find marginally-more injuries among turf teams (2.90 vs 2.85). It’s not just a sample size thing, if that’s what you’re wondering; none of these averages are statistically different from each other except leg sprains, which is actually significant in favor of the turf teams.
This, in turn, raises the risk of a ligament injury. In fact, early studies on the first-generation artificial turf (AT) fields (“Astroturf-type” surfaces) did show an increased injury risk compared to natural grass (NG) [ 3.
Soccer Injury Patient Interview. Turf toe is a very common sports related injury where there is a sprain to the main joint of the big toe. Symptoms include pain, swelling, bruising, and limited range of motion. Sesamoiditis is also common with athletes and is typically due to overuse. It causes pain at the ball of the foot under the big toe.
A study that looked at 2,020 young, female soccer players from 109 teams over the course of a season found that ankle injuries were more common on turf than grass. 5 Ankle sprain was the most common injury and occurred at a rate of 1.5 injuries per 1000 hours of play time on turf compared to 0.8 injuries per 1000 hours on natural grass.
Not only in soccer, but in american football, players were also 67% more likely to suffer from ACL injuries on turf fields. Injuries are more likely to happen on turf because cleats aren’t able to penetrate the ground as they would on grass. So, when making quick cuts and turns the foot can get stuck in the surface. The risk of suffering an injury on turf can be reduced if you choose the correct pair of shoes for each one.
Physicians and trainers began to notice that players were injured with a greater frequency on the artificial turf. These injuries included anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears, concussions, and ankle sprains. John Powell from the University of Iowa was among the first to quantify the higher incidence of these injuries.
Epidemiology of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury on Natural Grass Versus Artificial Turf in Soccer: 10-Year Data From the National Collegiate Athletic Association Injury Surveillance System. Association of artificial turf and concussion in competitive contact sports: a systematic review and meta-analysis.