Biomechanical Analysis of Surface-Athlete Impacts on Third-Generation Artificial Turf

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Abstract

Background:

Excessive repetitive loads are widely believed to be the cause of overload or overuse injuries. On third-generation artificial turf, impacts have been found to vary with surface and shoe properties. Mechanical devices are considered not representative for measuring impact absorption during athletic movements, and pressure insoles have been shown as inaccurate with regard to magnitude of force.

Purpose:

To compare impact properties between different third-generation artificial turf systems in combination with various cleat configurations in vivo using force plate technology.

Study Design:

Controlled laboratory study.

Methods:

Twenty-two male soccer players (mean ± SD: age, 23.1 ± 2.8 y; height, 1.81 ± 0.1 m; body mass, 77.5 ± 6.0 kg) performed 10 short sprints, 5 straight with a sudden stop and 5 with a 90° cut, over a force plate covered with artificial turf for each combination of 3 turf systems and 3 cleat configurations.

Results:

During stop sprints, peak impact was significantly higher on a recreational-level turf system than professional-level turf systems with and without an underlying shock pad (3.12 body weight [W] vs 3.01 W and 3.02 W, respectively). During cut sprints, peak impact was significantly higher with traditional round cleats than with turf cleats and bladed cleats (2.99 W vs 2.84 W and 2.87 W, respectively).

Conclusion:

The results indicate that both an increase in assumed impact-absorbing surface properties and a larger distribution of shorter cleats produced lower impacts during standardized athletic movements. Regardless, none of the shoe-surface combinations yielded peak impacts of an assumed hazardous magnitude.

Clinical Relevance:

The study provides information on the extent to which various third-generation artificial turf systems and cleat configurations affect impact force, widely believed to be a causative factor for overload and overuse injuries.

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