ASTM F3248-17: Mixed Elastic Sport And Dance Surfaces

Interior of a gym with a sport and dance surface adhering to ASTM F3248-17.

Public gymnasiums sprung up in the US in the early 1800s. At this time, different types of fitness flooring emerged based on specific gymnastic activities. Crash, tumble, and landing mats made from cotton stuffed pads and mattresses were utilized in high impact areas; hard surfaces were prominent in areas that required solid ground, like weight lifting rooms. ASTM F3248-17: Standard Test Method For Determining Vertical Deformation And Area Deflection Of Area Elastic, Point Elastic, Combined Elastic And Mixed Elastic Sport And Dance Surfaces provides methods to measure the deflective properties of a sports surface.

The First Gymnasiums

Gymnasiums have been around since Ancient Greece and functioned as a place to cultivate both the body and mind. Simple fitness mats for gym flooring may have been woven from fabrics to provide traction in post-exercise bathing areas. A few centuries later in Germany, gymnasiums evolved into areas designated for outdoor gymnastic exercises, and hence athletes needed soft padding to use the parallel bars, rings, horse, and horizontal bar. As a result, sand pits and hay were used in addition to the hard ground required for landing areas. These surfaces were considered to be the first version of today’s fitness mats. They were used solely for the purpose of cushioning and protection, helping reduce the impact force felt through an athlete’s body via a foot impact during an athletic activity.

What Is ASTM F3248?

ASTM F3248-17 covers the quantitative measurement and normalization of deflections generated within a sports surface as an indication of the stability and comfort provided by the system. Deflective properties provide estimates on the stability and comfort from a sport surface. The methods (area deflection and vertical deformation) described in this standard applicable in both a laboratory and field setting.

ASTM F3248 Test Methods for Sport Surfaces

Area deflection is a property that provides a quick and cost-effective estimate of the vibration properties of a sports surface. It provides a measure of the vibrations generated during an impact and their strength at a predetermined distance from the point of impact. Area deflection testing is limited to area elastic, combination elastic, and mixed elastic flooring systems. This method is applicable to indoor and outdoor surfaces including but not limited to wood and synthetic courts, walk/jog/run tracks, tennis courts, dance surfaces, aerobics and general fitness surfaces. It is not applicable to natural turf, synthetic turf, or playground surfaces.

Vertical deformation is a property that provides a quick and cost-effective means of estimating the stability that a sport surface provides during lower extremity loading. It provides a measure for the vertical motion generated within the sports surface system directly below the point of impact that has been normalized to a standard impact force. ASTM F3248-17 states that area deflection testing is optional, and only applicable to area-elastic, combined elastic and mixed elastic sport surfaces. These include wood surfaces, synthetic surfaces on a sprung wood subfloor, and point elastic surfaces with an internal area elastic component.

How to Design Exercise Flooring

Designing an ideal exercise area requires quality, safe, and durable sports flooring. The right flooring should provide proper traction and appropriate slip resistance. Sports halls require a hard surface for court games and assemblies. Hardwood flooring with a glossy lacquer that can be buffed is the traditional choice and lasts 20 to 30 years. Modern alternatives to hardwood include polyurethane, rubber, and vinyl. These materials are tough and offer decades of use with minimal maintenance. Key quality of a durable sports floor include:

  • Adequate shock absorption: To help protect our bodies, joints, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons. It is important to make sure a sports floor and subfloor have the right amount of give and have sufficient traction for the type of sport activity. An athletic floor can reduce the impact force felt through your body via a foot impact during an athletic activity.
  • Proper vertical deformation: Not enough vertical deformation could lead to an increase in acute injuries and too much may impede performance and decrease stability.

ASTM F3248-17: Standard Test Method For Determining Vertical Deformation And Area Deflection Of Area Elastic, Point Elastic, Combined Elastic And Mixed Elastic Sport And Dance Surfaces is available on the ANSI Webstore.

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