The mushrooming of artificial turf grounds across the State owing to a decrease in the availability of open fields has given an opportunity for people to play their favorite sport in the fast-growing urban environment. However, experts in sports medicine believe that it is turning out to be a cause for concern as players picking up injuries have become more common.
About 70% cases attended at sports clinics are related to turf incidents, and among these, knee injuries constitute the majority, said M. Jyothiprasanth, chief and senior consultant, sports medicine, Baby Memorial Hospital, Kannur.
He said that 85% were anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and meniscal injuries. Many youngsters, aged 14 and above, have suffered injuries while playing on turfs, he added.
Understanding the factors contributing to these injuries and implementing preventive measures are essential for athletes and enthusiasts, he said.
Pointing out a comparative study on ACL injuries to football and soccer players between 2007-08 and 2018-19 while playing on turfs versus natural grass in the United States, Dr. Febi, CEO of Dr. Febi’s Ortho Rehab and Sports Medicine, Kannur, said that injuries caused on artificial turfs were higher.
The study also points to the need for additional research to understand why artificial turfs may be more associated with the increased risk, he added. However, both doctors agreed that one of the foremost factors contributing to these injuries is the use of improper shoes. Unlike natural grass, turf demands a distinct type of shoes that provide necessary grip and support, he said.
However, it has often been seen that many use grass-specific boots on artificial turfs. This leads to reduced traction, stability and support, resulting in an elevated risk of slips, twists, and sprains. Likewise, inadequate warm-up and cool-down routines before and after games can significantly help reduce injuries.
However, it has been noticed that since most of the turf grounds are taken on an hourly basis, players rarely spend time on the ground for these activities, thus increasing the possibility of picking up injuries.
Dr. Jyotiprasanth and Dr. Febi said that by embracing practices such as preventive neuromuscular training and leveraging innovative techniques like arthroscopy, athletes can navigate the world of turf sports with confidence and increase their skills.