October 2012

NFL study finds higher rates of sprains on artificial turf than on grass surfaces

In the moment: Sports medicine

By Jordana Bieze Foster

Knee and ankle sprains in National Football League (NFL) players occurred more frequently on artificial turf than on grass between 2000 and 2009, according to a study commissioned by the NFL Injury and Safety Panel e-published in September by The American Journal of Sports Medicine.

Researchers from Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City and other centers analyzed injury surveillance system data for 1356 team games (678 games) played on FieldTurf and 4004 team games played on grass. They found that 1528 knee sprains and 1503 ankle sprains occurred during the study time frame. Incidence density ratios were calculated with adjustments for weather conditions.

Knee sprains and ankle sprains each occurred 22% more frequently on FieldTurf than on grass. The anterior cruciate ligament sprain rate was 67% higher on artificial turf than on grass, but medial collateral ligament sprain rates were similar for the two surfaces. Eversion ankle sprains occurred 31% more often on artificial turf than on grass, but inversion ankle sprain rates were not significantly affected by type of playing surface.


Hershman EB, Anderson R, Bergfield JA, et al. An analysis of specific lower extremity injury rates on grass and FieldTurf playing surfaces in National Football League games: 2000-2009 seasons. Am J Sports Med 2012 Sep 12. [Epub ahead of print]

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