TURFGRASS SPORTS SURFACES AND THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO PLAYER INJURIES
While much has been written about methods of assessing turfgrass surfaces to describe their playing and visual characters, and injury surveillance is undertaken for many major football codes, there has been little work to assess the relationship between the two. In a number of football codes across the world there are strong relationships between the climatic season and the rate of injury. These relationships are readily monitored for major knee injuries, and in particular ACL injuries, as these injuries are not the result of accumulating wear and tear, but are instead the result of a particular identifiable event. ACL injuries occur in response to very high rotational force loads being experienced by the player's knee and usually do not involve player contact. The dominant factor is the inability of the players' foot to rotate freely within the turf or soil at a time when the body is rotating. In two football codes in the UK and one football code each in New Zealand, the USA and Australia injury monitoring has shown a relationship between stage of season and injury rate Whilst no study has monitored all risk factors, indirect evidence suggests that extrinsic factors (e.g. turfgrass surface characteristics) are more likely to explain this relationship than intrinsic factors (e.g. player fitness). Recent studies in Australia have shown a strong relationship between the rate of ACL injuries and the occurrence of stoloniferous grasses, such as Bermuda grass, in the surface. An increased incidence of ryegrass in the surface leads to lower ACL injury rates. New equipment is able to determine rotational force, or grip, for each angle of rotation from a fixed starting point. For different grasses and for different stages of the climatic season, the rate of increase of grip varied, the angle of maximum force changed and the number of degrees of rotation required to reach certain critical levels of grip varied. This equipment has been able to determine differences between species of grass that are consistent with the occurrence of ACL injuries. It has also been able to show the effect of some changed management practices on the rate of increase of grip which may provide some solutions for grounds managers. Further work may be able to explain some of the differences observed in injury rates.
Chivers, I. 2008. TURFGRASS SPORTS SURFACES AND THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO PLAYER INJURIES. Acta Hort. (ISHS) 783:115-132
playing surfaces, knee injuries, football, grasses, turf surfaces