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Aaron Rodgers injury renews complaints about artificial turf in sports

A study found that play on synthetic turf resulted in 16% more lower extremity injuries than on natural turf.
Posted at 3:48 PM, Sep 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-14 15:48:44-04

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.

Aaron Rodgers out for the season after injury in 1st game with NY Jets
New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers is helped off the field after an injury.

Aaron Rodgers out for the season after injury in 1st game with NY Jets

Just minutes into the Monday Night Football matchup, four-time MVP Aaron Rodgers suffered a season-ending Achilles tear.

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Doug Soldat is a turfgrass extension specialist with the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He discussed how 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 study published by The American Journal of Sports Medicine. It found play on synthetic turf resulted in 16% more 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 he did not think the artificial turf was a factor in Rodgers' injury.

"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, Wisconsin, a town just outside of Milwaukee.

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

Scripps News Milwaukee 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.”

This story was originally published by Mary Jo Ola at Scripps News Milwaukee.

The effect of playing surfa... by TMJ4 News