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Non-contact ACL injuries: association with clegg soil impact test values for sports fields, soil moisture and prevailing weather

Smeathers, J.E. and Urry, S.R. and Butler, A. and Nicholson, C.D. and Wearing, S.C. and Hooper, S. (2009) Non-contact ACL injuries: association with clegg soil impact test values for sports fields, soil moisture and prevailing weather. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 12 (Suppl.). e9-e10. ISSN 1878-1861

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Introduction: There is a recognised relationship between dry weather conditions and increased risk of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. Previous studies have identified 28 day evaporation as an important weather-based predictor of non-contact ACL injuries in professional Australian Football League matches. The mechanism of non-contact injury to the ACL is believed to increased traction and impact forces between footwear and playing surface. Ground hardness and the amount and quality of grass are factors that would most likely influence this and are inturn, related to the soil moisture content and prevailing weather conditions. This paper explores the relationship between soil moisture content, preceding weather conditions and the Clegg Soil Impact Test (CSIT) which is an internationally recognised standard measure of ground hardness for sports fields. Methodology: The 2.25 kg Clegg Soil Impact Test and a pair of 12 cm soil moisture probes were used to measure ground hardness and percentage moisture content. Five football fields were surveyed at 13 prescribed sites just before seven football matches from October 2008 to January 2009 (an FC Women's W-League team). Weather conditions recorded at the nearest weather station were obtained from the Bureau of Meteorology website and total rainfall less evaporation was calculated for 7 and 28 days prior to each match. All non-contact injuries occurring during match play and their location on the field were recorded. Results/conclusions: Ground hardness varied between CSIT 5 and 17 (x10G) (8 is considered a good value for sports fields). Variations within fields were typically greatest in the centre and goal areas. Soil moisture ranged from 3 to 40% with some fields requiring twice the moisture content of others to maintain similar CSIT values. There was a non-linear, negative relationship for ground hardness versus moisture content and a linear relationship with weather (R2, of 0.30 and 0.34, respectively). Three non-contact ACL injuries occurred during the season. Two of these were associated with hard and variable ground conditions.