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Rodgers injury spurs questions about artificial turf in sports

A study found play on synthetic turf resulted in a 16 percent increase in lower extremity injuries per play than on natural turf.
Bills Jets Football
Posted at 10:02 AM, Sep 13, 2023

When Aaron Rodgers was hurt during his first game as a New York Jet, some were left wondering how much the artificial turf played a role in the 39-year-old's season-ending injury.

Doug Soldat is a turfgrass extension specialist with the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He discussed some sports teams at the local and professional level are converting to artificial turf.

"They can handle a lot of traffic, and you can use them in all weather conditions," Soldat said.

Soldat pointed to some peer-reviewed studies including a 2018 one published by The American Journal of Sports Medicine. It found play on synthetic turf resulted in a 16 percent increase in lower extremity injuries per play than on natural turf.


Higher Rates of Lower Extre... by TMJ4 News

"Artificial turf has more traction. So when the foot is planted and the players push off of it the foot doesn't slip. So some of that force gets transferred to the joints, and that's what can lead to a higher injury rate," Soldat said.

However, injuries in sports are unfortunately part of the game.

On Tuesday, the Jets' head coach said in the Rodgers case he did not think the artificial turf was a factor.

Experts weigh in: Rodgers tears Achilles

"I do remember playing indoors though, and my cleats would get stuck to the indoor turf. They both have different safety issues," former student-athlete Danielle Herrick said.

Herrick grew up playing soccer in West Allis.

"I would still choose natural grass over artificial turf. It's just part of the game," Herrick said.

TMJ4 News reached out to the Synthetic Turf Council for comment. President and CEO Melanie Taylor released the following statement:

“Synthetic turf is a highly researched product that communities, athletic departments, and sports organizations alike choose due to the consistent playing surface it provides. Every aspect of our fields have been reviewed by independent experts and multi-government bodies.”


The effect of playing surfa... by TMJ4 News