Synthetic Turf Injuries in High School Sports

Artificial vs. Natural Turf

Synthetic Turf Injuries in High School Sports

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Artificial turf is much easier to maintain than natural grass playing fields. However, there has been a concern raised over the safety of artificial turf over natural grass playing fields. The controversy is over the types and frequency of injuries that are sustained while playing on both of these surfaces. Rates differ between games on artificial, as opposed to natural turf. Rates of injury on artificial turf are 13.8 out of 100, which is considerably higher than those that occur on natural turf (Ramirez, Schaffer, & Shen et al., 2006). That is over 10% of players on any given night. The risk of sustaining injury playing high school football is significant, making the ability to reduce risk an important issue for academic study. The problem to be studied by this research is whether artificial turf or natural turf represents the safest playing surface for high school football players.

Literature Review

The topic of injuries and synthetic turf have received considerable academic attention. The problem with synthetic turf is that it is harder than natural turf. Currently infill systems are being investigated to see if they reduce injuries better than the older turf systems (McNitt, 2005). Another recent concern is the release of volatile organic compounds the affects of exposure to them long after the product is installed (Claudio, 2008). Recently, makers of Astro Turf have had to comply with lead standards in California (Gorman, 2009). Another difficulty in the field is the difficulty in coming to a consensus as to the definitions of various types of injuries (Fuller, Ekstrand, & Junge et al., 2006).

Ekstrand, Timpka, & Hagglund (2006) found that the risk of ankle sprain was much higher on synthetic turf than on natural grass. Steffen, Andersen, & Bahr agreed with these findings, only they found that injuries on artificial turf were more severe. Differences in injury rates were more significant on artificial turf than for women (Fuller, Dick, & Corlette et al., 2007). Drakos (2008) found that friction on artificial turf was a key factor in injury rates. However, not all studies agreed that the difference in injury rate was significant between artificial turf and natural grass. Bjernbee, Bahr, & Andersen (2010) found that there were differences between artificial turf and natural turf, but that these were not significant.

Statement of Hypotheses

This research will examine two hypotheses. This first is that, “friction injuries will be found to be significantly greater on synthetic turf than on natural turf among male high school football players.” The independent variable will be whether the groups are playing on synthetic or natural turf. The dependent variable will be the number of friction injuries sustained.

The second hypothesis will state that, “Ankle sprains will be found to be significantly greater on synthetic turf than on natural turf among male high school football players.” The independent variable will be whether the groups are playing on synthetic or natural turf. The dependent variable will be the number of ankle injuries sustained.

This research study will explore two different types of sports injures and compare rates on artificial vs. natural grass. It will provide a side-by-side comparison using two types of injuries that are easily definable for research purposes. The research will contribute to solution of the debate as to whether the numbers of injuries sustained on artificial turf are significantly higher than on natural turf among make high school football players.


Bjernbee, J.,

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