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How To Prevent Turf Burns In Soccer? | 3 Effective Methods

How To Prevent Turf Burns In Soccer? | 3 Effective Methods

It’s never too much to leave a soccer pitch with a bruise or two on your knees and elbows. It shows you played with all your heart.

But the massive shift to playing on turf instead of wet natural grass in the US raises particular questions about the players’ safety.

Astro turfs are great for cutting costs and providing an even playing ground. But they also introduce a new type of injury to the soccer arena, the turf burn.

A turf burn happens when you hit the ground during a tackle or after losing your balance. Instead of sliding across the wet grass blades, your skin scrapes against the rubber chippings and high-friction blades of the synthetic turf. The heat from such a contact tears the top layer of your skin.

This downside to playing on turf was first pointed out during the 2015 Women’s World Cup. A few teams protested against the FIFA and Canadian soccer boards for approving several fixtures over turf fields.

Although the case was later closed without bearing fruit, it did highlight a major drawback to playing on turf fields.

Besides giving you a nasty burn and an ugly scar, turf burns show all the potential of evolving into persistent skin diseases, including cancer.

So, today we’ll uncover how to prevent turf burns in soccer and keep you off of injuries as much as possible.

How to Prevent Turf Burns in Soccer?

A turf burn may take between two and three weeks to heal completely. If you’re in the middle of a season or tournament, that means missing a few matches.

Turf may look like grass but it is an entirely different medium to play soccer on. That’s why the precautions you take need to be different from playing on a grass field.

So, here are three suggestions on how you can prevent turf burns in soccer.

Wearing protective equipment

The first and most evident preventative measure is wearing protective clothing to cover the vulnerable areas on your skin.

Your knees, elbows, and palms are where you’ll get bruised most of the time. So, it’s a good idea to wear a kit that helps you cover all three.

a soccer player wearing red socks and gloves tying shoelaces

There are a couple of ways you can protect your knees. You can change your soccer wardrobe to long socks that go well over your knees.

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Interestingly, wearing longer and thicker socks can also help to prevent blisters. Or, you wear dry-fit leggings under your shorts to keep the skin around your knees covered.

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For your elbows and arms, wearing a long-sleeved skinny-fit shirt under your kit will provide some protection. Also, get a pair of sports gloves for your palms.

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Wearing these protective layers under your kit will cover all exposed skin on your body. So, when you hit the ground during a tackle or foul, you don’t rub your skin against the high friction blades of the turf.

Though you’ll still feel the burn of the fall when you rub your knee, palms, or elbows against the turf, the protective clothing will eat most of the friction. You’ll end up with a bunch of torn clothes which is better than turf burns.

Staying on your feet

An excellent piece of advice for preventing turf burns in soccer is to stay on your feet and avoid the ground game. From sliding tackle to sliding to celebrate a goal, soccer players have myriads of reasons for going down on the pitch.

Playing soccer on a turf field is quite a different experience from a wet grass field. The ground is level and there’s less slipping and sliding which turns up the game’s pace.

a player is going to kick a soccer ball to the goal

There are indeed times when a defender must slide tackle an advancing player. But generally, the game is too fast-paced for risking such a maneuver.

The high friction on a turf field takes away most of the sliding from a dive. You come to a relatively short and quick stop when you decide to skid across the field to tackle another player.

So, a slide tackle, a trademark skill of a grass field, is not as effective on a turf field. The better way for you to follow then is defending on your feet.

Instead of relying on slide-tackles, focus your game on pressuring and closing the distance. This will improve your performance greatly as a defender and prevent frequent turf burns.

Using the boxer’s trick

If you find it hard to defend on your feet and can’t get a new set of clothing for playing on a turf field, you’ll perhaps have to “lube” the vulnerable points on your skin.

Boxers have been applying Vaseline on their face to reduce the friction between the gloves and the fighter’s face for ages. The extra layer of Vaseline helps the rubber glove slide across the cheek without biting it.

You can use the same method for playing soccer on a turf field. Apply Vaseline thoroughly around your knees, elbows, and maybe palms.

vaseline to apply on palm, knee and elbow of soccer player

Don’t be bothered by the mess it makes when it traps dirt, dust, and rubber chippings from the ground. You can wash it off afterward.

But, it’ll surely let your skin slide on the turf field and not let the friction bite and burn your skin.


Though all injuries are bad, turf burns are some of the most annoying and irritating that a soccer player can get. You can get a turf burn even from a very mediocre and mild contact with the ground when playing soccer and it can take weeks to heal completely.

However, with the preventive steps above, you can easily bring down the number of times you have to leave the field with a bruised knee or elbow.

Wearing an extra layer of protective clothing, adopting a “safe” style of defending, and applying Vaseline to every exposed part of your body can significantly prevent turf burns in soccer.