Athletes, Experts Question Fake Grass' Safety 1-14-2010

Evan Lambert Guest Contributor,
PHOENIXDespite the growing popularity of artificial turf, athletes and physical therapists say the fake grass could lead to more injuries on the field.
Michael Branson, a physical therapist and owner of Cor Clinic in Scottsdale, said although there are not conclusive statistics that show a distinct increase in injury rates on artificial turf, common sense says if a surface is harder it could lead to more serious injuries.
"I would think you would see more injuries" with artificial turf, said Branson, who works with injured athletes.
He frequently sees problems connected with synthetic turf, such as "turf toe," which is essentially a sprain to the toe. It can be as difficult or more to recover from than a sprained ankle.
Nevertheless, Branson also said more serious injuries, like the tearing of the ACL, could arise.
"New artificial turf fields … basically have a higher level of holding onto the foot," he said. "There is a potential for more rotation injuries on artificial turf fields versus grass."
Zoe Smith, a soccer player and sophomore student at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, said she prefers playing on natural grass. The 16-year-old has fallen on synthetic turf many times, and she said it changes how she plays.
"In practices if I'm not wearing my sliders or something, I definitely … would hold back because … it kills to fall on turf if you fall the wrong way," Zoe said.
Branson said that, despite seeing injuries on both surfaces, he thinks that natural fields are "the way to go."

Copyright 2010 by All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.