Stay injury-free on artificial turf

Learn about playing safe on artificial turf.

December 22, 2020


Artificial grass, known as artificial turf, is used for many playing surfaces from professional sports to local parks. Some people think artificial turf increases muscle and bone injuries because of friction it creates. 

Foot injuries 

Playing on turf increases friction to your foot and ligaments. A ligament is a strong band of tissue that holds joints together. When you stop running, your foot, or great toe, stops movement first. While your foot stops, the rest of your body continues to move forward. This creates torque force. 

This torque force creates greater impact because of sudden deceleration or slowing down. Two of the most common injuries are turf toe and ankle sprains.

For turf toe, when you jam your big toe, the torque force created occurs through the great toe joint. For ankle sprains, the torque force occurs in surrounding ligaments.

Full ligament ruptures can lead to long-term instability and arthritis if not taken care of properly. Symptoms of ankle sprains include swelling, bruising and not being able to bear weight.

Podiatry is medicine that focuses on the foot and ankle. A podiatrist specializes in feet and ankles. You should make an appointment with a podiatrist if your symptoms last longer than two weeks.

How to stop injuries 

You can stop turf toe injuries and ankle sprains by finding the right footwear. Proper footwear keeps the toe joint from bending too much. You can also use shoe inserts to help your feet with discomfort and cramping.

Wear the proper footwear

Many shoes are not suited for turf fields. Traditional shoe cleats use long plastic or metal studs that can get caught in turf. This can raise your chances of non-contact muscle and joint injuries. Running shoes don’t provide enough traction on turf and can lead to slipping.

Look for specific shoe cleats with protective padding made to hold up on turf and give support. These types of cleats use shorter and rounder rubber studs, gripping the surface and assisting in pushing off with less slippage.

Tips for proper footwear

Choose cleats based on playing surface. Even with turf shoes or other proper footwear, there is still a chance of injury.

Wear sports or athletic socks. They will keep your feet from sliding and help stop blisters. They also have padding to protect from impact and pressure of harder surfaces like turf. 

Look out for hot turf

Artificial turf surfaces hold heat easily. This can create a sauna-like result. Hot air temperatures outside can cause turf temperatures to go above 140° F.

Get help for ankle and foot injuries 

Getting a proper evaluation can help you get back to playing sooner. If you have questions about ankle and foot injuries, contact The Polyclinic podiatry department for all of your ankle and foot care needs. 


By Sarah Burns, DPM, FACFAS and Daniel Lowinger, DPM, FACFAS

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The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.