The goal of this investigation was to determine if playing or training on third-generation artificial turf (AT) surfaces increases the incidence rate of injuries compared to natural grass (NG) surfaces. This was accomplished by a meta-analysis performed on previously published research. Eight studies met the criteria of competitive soccer players, participation on both surfaces, and presentation of both exposure time and injury occurrence. Exposure time and injury incidence values were used to generate injury rate ratios (IRRs, AT/NG) for all injuries as well as specific injuries. Subgroup analyses were also performed by condition (match or training), gender, and age (youth or adult). The overall IRR was 0.86 (P < 0.05) suggesting a lower injury risk on AT than NG. However, there was considerable heterogeneity between studies. Analyses of individual injuries and subgroups found that in many cases IRR values were significantly less than 1.0. In no case was the IRR significantly greater than 1.0. Based on this, it appears that the risk of sustaining an injury on AT under some conditions might be lowered compared to NG. However, until more is known about how issues such as altered playing styles affect injury incidence, it is difficult to make firm conclusions regarding the influence of AT on player safety.
Williams, J. H., Akogyrem, E., & Williams, J. R. (2013). A Meta-Analysis of Soccer Injuries on Artificial Turf and Natural Grass. Journal of Sports Medicine, 2013, 1–6. https://doi.org/10.1155/2013/380523