According to a new Canadian study on injuries related to natural grass versus artificial turf, 94 per cent of participating Major League Soccer (MLS) players think there is a higher risk of non-contact injuries due to the artificial turf.

The study, “The Perceptions of Professional Soccer Players on the Risk of Injury from Competition and Training on Natural Grass and 3rd-generation Artificial Turf,” by researchers from Toronto’s York University, included 99 players from six MLS teams during the 2011 season. Published in the journal of BMC Sports Science, Medicine, and Rehabilitation, the study shows more participants blame artificial grass for increased muscle and joint pain, as well as longer recovery times.

According to a study participant, “Feet stick when wet, and the ball moves too fast and your joints are put under more stress because there is no give in turf surface.”

“A lot of the research that’s looked at this issue has used injury reports,” Constantine Poulos, the study’s principal investigator, told The Vancouver Sun. “But experiencing more soreness isn’t picked up in those traditional reports because even though a player is more fatigued, they’re still able to participate. If a resounding amount of these players say they experience these issues after playing on artificial turf, I don’t think that’s to be ignored.”

Poulos told Canadian Groundskeeper the primary findings were as follows:

  • the majority of players in the study believed the risk of sustaining an injury, specifically a non-contact injury, was greater on artificial turf;
  • the majority of players experienced greater muscle and joint soreness after training and games on artificial turf as opposed to grass; and
  • the players believed artificial turf was too hard, had greater surface friction, and required more energy to play on compared to natural grass.