COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.—With artificial athletic football turf, weight matters, according to a new study presented at the recent annual meeting of the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine.
“Our research showed that as the artificial infill surface weight decreased, the incidence of game-related high school football trauma significantly increased,” said Michael Clinton Meyers, who led the research into artificial turf systems on football fields at Idaho State University.
The study covered 52 high schools across four states, with injuries evaluated over five consecutive competitive seasons (2010-14), according to an AOSSM news release.
The artificial football fields were divided into four categories, based on pounds of infill per square foot, the AOSSM said. Whether composed of sand or rubber, the infills prevented more injuries the heavier they were, with significant injury reductions seen at infill rates of nine pounds per square foot or higher, the association said.
“Based on our findings, we would recommend that high school football fields contain a minimum of 6.0 pounds per square foot of infill weight to optimize player safety on artificial surfaces,” Meyers said.
“With the amount of athletes playing football, and the setbacks associated with injuries, we hope this research will help decrease these numbers and make football safer for young athletes,” he said.
Meyers said that more research is needed and that the survey results cannot be generalized to other levels of sports competition.
This study, the first of its kind, won the AOSSM's first annual STOP Sports Injuries Award for leading research in youth sports injury prevention, the AOSSM said.