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Effects of Shock-Absorbing Insoles During Transition from Natural Grass to Artificial Turf in Young Soccer Players

A Randomized Controlled Trial

Søren Kaalund Kaalunds Klinik, Aalborg, Denmark.
Danish Football Association, Broendby, Denmark.

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Pascal Madeleine Physical Activity and Human Performance Group, Center for Sensory-Motor Interaction, Department of Health Science and Technology, Aalborg University, Aalborg East, Denmark.

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Background

Playing soccer on artificial turf can provoke pain in young players. Using shock-absorbing insoles (SAIs) can result in decreased pain perception. We sought to investigate the pain and comfort intensity experienced during the switch from natural grass to third-generation artificial turf and with the use of SAIs on artificial turf during training in young soccer players.

Methods

In a prospective randomized controlled study, 75 players were included from the youth teams of U15, U17, and U19. Pain intensity and comfort were assessed after training on only grass turf for 3 months. Randomization stratified by team level and age was performed; the intervention group received SAIs, and the control group used their own insoles. Assessments were repeated after 3 weeks on artificial turf (baseline) and 3 more weeks (follow-up) on artificial turf with SAIs/usual insoles.

Results

Pain intensity increased and comfort decreased significantly after 3 weeks of training on artificial grass compared with natural grass (P < .05). The addition of SAIs resulted in significantly reduced pain intensity compared with the usual insoles (P < .05).

Conclusions

The switch to artificial turf is associated with less comfort and more pain during training in young soccer players. The use of SAIs led to lower pain intensity, highlighting a protective role of the insoles after 6 weeks of training on artificial turf.

Corresponding author: Pascal Madeleine, PhD, DSc, Physical Activity and Human Performance Group, Center for Sensory-Motor Interaction, Department of Health Science and Technology, Aalborg University, Fredrik Bajers Vej 7, 9220 Aalborg East, Denmark. (E-mail: pm@hst.aau.dk)