Artificial turf in sports facilities is not a new phenomenon as it has been in use for more than 40 years now. Initially, the idea was to create a surface that will be easy to maintain and that it is suitable for indoor stadiums with nylon and other synthetic materials. However, we have learned from history that this noble idea has become a frequent subject of controversy and challenges.
AstroTurf™ was one of the artificial turfs that were initially introduced to sports in the 1960s. At first, many people loved it because of its durability and that it does not require many expenses for its upkeep. Unfortunately, though, the goodwill for the new technology was soon replaced by skepticism. This is because trainers and physicians noticed an increased frequency of injury for players who played on the artificial turf. Some of the most prevalent injuries included concussions, anterior ligament (ACL) tears, and ankle sprains.
University of Iowa’s John Powell was one of the first people to quantify these injuries’ prevalence on players who played on synthetic turf. According to a paper published by John in 1992, professionals and football teams who played on artificial turf experienced more knee injuries than teams who played on natural grass. Some other injury patterns were also unique to synthetic turf; they include turf toe, turf burn, etc. Moreover, players who played on artificial turf were reported to experience higher muscle soreness levels than players who play on natural grass surfaces.
The Development and Advancement of Modern Artificial Turf Surfaces
Since artificial turf’s issues and controversies began, companies have continuously made strides to better the technology and simulate more natural grass surfaces. Modern artificial turf consists mostly of infill surfaces. The infill is made of silica pellets or crumb rubber, which can be mixed with sand. They function to imitate the dirt that is often felt between natural grass blades. This is so that the field where the turf is laid will offer a feel that is more “grass-like.”
Some examples of modern artificial turf include AstroTurf Gameday Grass™, FieldTurf™, SprinTurf™, and Sportsexe Momentum Turf™. They have polythene or nylon fibers that attempt to imitate grass blades. They are also made of different heights, depending on the type of sports they are designed for and their manufacturers.
Notwithstanding the modern developments in artificial turf technology, controversies still surround its injury rates. Also, players claim that they can still notice some texture and playability differences. Many scientists suspect that the materials that can affect artificial turfs’ injury rates include the friction and restitution coefficients.
What is the Future of Playing Surfaces for Playability and Injury Prevention?
To date, scientists are yet to determine the premium field condition for optimum playability and injury prevention. However, there are ongoing studies to determine the safest materials for artificial turf today. It is estimated that these studies will further advance artificial turf technology to make it safer and more grass-like. It will also contribute to advancing existing products to produce well-maintained grass mechanical properties.
It is established that the use of artificial turf in sports facilities has endured for many decades. Within this period, various concerns have been raised about it, promoting many studies and advancements in technology. However, many controversies still surround the practice. This article has discussed some of the things you should know about this technology and some discussions about it.