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3 Ways to Prevent Back to School Turf Toe Injury

As kids head back to school and youth sports, they’re back at risk for a turf toe injury. Why are school sports such a risk? Studies now show that playing sports on artificial turf is riskier than playing on grass. And, since many high schools invest in turf playing fields, now’s the time to get serious about athletic injury prevention.


What is a Turf Toe Injury?

turf toe injury

Photo by Keith Johnston on Unsplash

A turf toe injury damages the ligaments at the base of the big toe. It happens when the toe hits a hard surface, like artificial turf. In turn, the toe absorbs all the force of the movement. That alone causes damage, but turf toe can also happen when your toe bends backward unnaturally, causing this type of sprain.


Why Turf is a Problem

Studies show that playing on turf isn’t just a problem for toes. In fact, it ups the risk for foot and ankle injuries of all kinds. (And knee and hip injuries too!) But it’s a much bigger problem for football players than for soccer players, according to research.

To get these results, Dr Heath Gould and his team at Medstar Orthopedic Institute reviewed 53 studies, conducted between 1972 and 2020, that followed athletes who played on grass and turf. While a few studies suggested playing on grass might be worse on the feet, those had links to artificial turf manufacturers. Ultimately, they concluded, “The available body of literature suggests a higher rate of foot and ankle injuries on artificial turf, both old-generation and new-generation turf, compared with natural grass.”

How to Prevent a Turf Toe Injury

While we can’t make any guarantees, these three safe training tips can help your athlete stay safe while playing on artificial turf surfaces.

In order to prevent turf toe:

  1. Choose proper athletic shoes if you’re playing on turf. They should always have hard protective soles, and fit properly so that your feet don’t slide and slam into the ends of the shoe. Ask your child’s coach if the shoes should have cleats or not.
  2. Especially for football players, supportive athletic tape can help prevent a turf toe injury. Ask our in-house athletic trainer for tips on the best ways to tape your young athlete’s feet.
  3. Check your running form. If necessary, a gait analysis and custom orthotics can help your athlete run safely and help prevent injuries.


Sports Injury Care in Spring and Tomball TX

Problems like a turf toe injury only get worse without immediate treatment. If your athlete complains of toe pain after playing on astroturf, schedule an immediate appointment with our team of trained sports podiatrists. We’ll get them healed and off the injured list as quickly as possible!