Playground Matting with the Best Fall Protection
By Created: July, 2017 - Modified: June, 2021
Related Product: Indoor Playground Flooring Tiles
Each one has its own unique advantages, so let's look at the most popular types to see which is right for you!
Fall Protection Mats for Sports and Other ActivitiesCheerleading may not be considered a contact sport like football or wrestling, but it can actually be one of the more dangerous activities, especially when pyramids and lifts are involved. Falling can lead to bumps, bruises, and even bone fractures and concussions, so having a soft flooring material with cushioning surface is important to the safety of cheerleaders.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that cheerleading was responsible for 65% of all direct catastrophic injuries for high school female athletes between 1982 and 2009. Considering that the National Cheer Safety Administration has said that roughly 93% of all cheerleading accidents happen on hard surfaces, having a soft landing space becomes very important. Broken bones aren't the only major concern, as cheerleading falls can also cause significant head injuries and concussions.
Having soft materials for fall protection mats is important for cheerleading safety. Unfortunately, lots of cheerleading is done on hard surfaces, such as basketball courts, concrete slabs, or even vinyl tile.
Selecting the right fall protection foam, rubber or plastic for cheerleading takes time, and it often depends on your specific needs. Puzzle mats, which were originally designed for martial arts and other combat sports, can be effective for cheerleading mats. Carpet-bonded foam mats, as well as folding mats, can be used to provide reliable protection. Another option is sprung floors, which are usually 12 to 20 centimeters thick. Although nothing can completely prevent fall injuries, these mats provide excellent protection for cheerleaders of all ages and skill levels.
Top 5 Fall Protection Mat MaterialsWhen you begin researching fall protection mats, you'll want to make sure you understand the most common materials used to create these products. Depending on your needs and the specific flooring you will cover, having the right material can make a wide range of differences on the performance, reliability, and longevity of your mats.
1. RubberRubber is a strong, firm surface that can provide top-quality protection for many different sports. Although it doesn't always have the springy, soft feeling of mats made from foam, rubber can give added cushioning, especially when used over hard concrete or asphalt.
Fall protection mat rubber comes in recycled and virgin material and can give excellent traction for workouts and exercises, although it is not generally preferred for combat sports with lots of rolling, like wrestling or judo as it is too grippy.
One of the top benefits for rubber is that it is extremely durable. Compared to softer foam plastic mats, rubber can take a serious pounding and hold strong for years. This makes it ideal for high-traffic areas that need traction and light fall protection.
Depending on the design and thickness of your rubber flooring, it quite often offers the greatest fall protection as a stand alone flooring, which is why it is commonly used as outdoor playground matting for tall equipment.
Bounce Back Playground Matting TilesPut a little bounce in playground matting with this fall protection rubber material. These rubber mats are tough and reliable, and with a 10-year limited warranty, you'll get added peace of mind! Ranging from 1.75 inches to 4 inches thick, these tiles are rated to handle falls of between 3 to 10 feet, depending on the thickness of the tile. If you're looking for cheap playground flooring, you'll want to go with one of the thinner options, just keep in mind it won't have as much fall protection.
2. EVA FoamEthylene-vinyl acetate, which is commonly abbreviated to ''EVA,'' is a foam flooring with fall protection that is made from elasticized closed-cells. It has a softness and flexibility that is similar to rubber, and it has a glossy appearance. It has a wonderful shock-absorbing quality, making it a great choice for athletic activities. It can also have an anti-fatigue quality, making it popular for exercise areas and tracks. This material will absorb the impact from falls and provide superior safety to many different athletes.
As a closed-cell foam, EVA is firmer than open-cell foams, which allows for subtle movements while athletes are standing on the material. The firmness of the foam can help reduce the risk of rolling ankles. This is a great way to get indoor playground tiles cheap.
3. PVC PlasticThis form of plastic is generally harder than most fall protection foams, but it can still provide a level of cushioning that is far superior to concrete floors. PVC is used in many different products (well beyond the white PVC pipes), and creates a light yet solid and durable substance with a large variation flexibility and hardness that can withstand a lot of pressure.
One of the top benefits for PVC is that is works well for water and mold resistance. It won't absorb water like open-cell foam products, which makes it a superior option for outdoor use.
4. PU FoamIf you are looking for a material to provide extreme cushioning and fall protection, you should look at mats made from polyurethane, or PU, a soft and cushioning open-cell fall protection foam. This material is perfect for reducing fall injuries, but it is less durable than other products, which is why it is usually covered by another material such as vinyl or denim. It is often the best choice for landing pads to provide safe, comfortable support.
5. PE FoamThe most common type of foam available, polyethylene (PE) has a high-impact strength and waxy surface feeling. It is tough and durable and can absorb a lot of energy before breaking. This fall protection foam is often cross-linked, which makes the foam more rigid and helps it rebound from pressure faster. This type of plastic flooring with fall protection creates a cushioning that can be used in both folding and roll-out mats, giving added versatility to the material.
The foam material in these plastic fall protection mats is not ideal as a surface, so the material is often covered with a layer of vinyl or carpet, and even denim, to provide surface protection and enhance the mat's visual appearance. This allows foam vinyl to be wrapped in many different colors and designs.
6. Bonus: Sprung Floors
Your Source for Fall ProtectionGreatmats can help you find the right fall protection foam, rubber or plastic for your specific needs. Contact us today and we'll make sure you have the right information to make an informed decision on your fall protection mats!
For more on this topic please review our Playground Flooring, Mats and Tiles product page.