ACL Epidemic Hits Women's Basketball Signees

Submitted by Raoul on February 21st, 2012 at 12:47 AM


For some time, evidently, there has been an “epidemic” of ACL injuries occurring to female athletes, especially, according to one orthopedic clinic, those playing basketball, gymnastics, and soccer. That same source says that “female athletes have four to 10 times more ACL injuries than male athletes have” and goes on to discuss some of the theories that have been offered to explain this.

The Michigan women’s basketball program is feeling the effects of this epidemic as two of the four members of the 2012 recruiting class have suffered season-ending torn ACLs during their senior campaigns. Rebecca Lyttle of Florida’s Hollywood Christian school went down with a torn ACL in December, and then on February 11 Symone Denham of Columbus’s Northland High School (the same school Trey Burke attended) suffered a torn ACL and an injured MCL and will be undergoing surgery on February 29. (Best of luck to both of them in their surgery/rehab.)

On top of that, last spring in a postseason all-star game, Aquashia Anderson, a member of the 2011 U-M class, tore an ACL and ended up redshirting her freshman season. So, three out of Michigan’s eight signees in the 2011 and 2012 classes have suffered torn ACLs during their senior year of high school.

The epidemic also hit the U-M squad last season when Nya Jordan’s season ended in late December with a torn ACL. It took her well into the current season before she had fully recovered.

It seems like the Michigan women’s basketball program is challenging Purdue’s supremacy as ACL “U”.



February 21st, 2012 at 12:54 AM ^

thats the top two out of the four commits we have. And if I recall right the other 2 or maybe just the 1 was a 40 out of 100 which is a NR when it comes to the star rating. The two who got hurt one was a 4 star the other was a 3 star. Depth could be a problem next year.


February 21st, 2012 at 1:16 AM ^

It sounds like you might be basing that on ESPN's ratings, which have Lyttle as a 3-star and Denham as a 2-star. They never rated the other two players. ESPN isn't a particularly reliable source for women's basketball recruiting, and while I think Lyttle and Denham will both be fine players, the best player in the class according to other sources is Madison Ristovski, who is one of the top players in the state of Michigan--if not the top player. The fourth member of the class, Kelsey Mitchell, is also among the top five players in Michigan. One recruiting service has Ristovski ranked as the #80 player in their 2012 national rankings, Mitchell #104, and Lyttle #291.


February 21st, 2012 at 11:25 AM ^

And that's exactly what the team desparately needs--a reliable shooter. If they had had one this year, they probably would have won at least some of the games that were close losses. Carmen Reynolds was a reliable shooter a couple seasons ago, but she seems to have lost her touch.

Also, Madison is not only a great shooter but also a terrific passer. It wouldn't surprise me at all if she ends up being a four-year starting point guard for Michigan.

I assume you've also seen Madison's younger sisters Haleigh and Lola play. Any thoughts on their potential at the college level?


February 21st, 2012 at 2:07 AM ^

Tore both my ACLs playing basketball and was told by the PT that one of the reasons why it's more common in females is because when jumping we're more likely to land in a wider stance with our knees not as flexed. This causes females to not absorb the shock as well and leads to injury.


February 21st, 2012 at 8:12 AM ^

This is completely true. Did some research when I blew out my ACL a few years ago, the angle the femur sits at because of the shape of the female pelvis leaves women more susceptible to ACL tears. The info I found also indicated that the risk increases during menstruation for some reason. Apparently female soccer players are tue hardest hit.


February 21st, 2012 at 6:14 AM ^

Regarding this specific topic, a lot of it has to do with poor biomechanics and muscular coordination during "high risk" maneuvers. Preventive physical therapy is directed at balancing quad/hamstring strength, reducing the valgus moment about the knee when landing from a jump (preventing knock-kneed stance) and separating upper body movements from lower body to improve balance (such as when heading soccer ball). 70% of ACL injuries occur during non-contact situations.

The "wider" pelvis increases the Q angle, or vector moment of the quad tendon pull away from midline, but that is only a part of the problem. Ligamentous laxity, which fluctuates based upon women's montly cycle, and anatomic factors within the knee joint may contribute as well.


February 21st, 2012 at 6:42 AM ^

This is really interesting. I am curious about ACL injuries. I feel like in football they can be attributed highly to field turf (just my opinion). I feel like since earth doesn't move under the foot during a high impact cut, there is more pressure on the knee. Does anyone have any insight to validate this or is it completely unfounded?

swan flu

February 21st, 2012 at 6:53 AM ^

I coach soccer, which involves tons of high impact cutting, and I agree with you.

I have not had any of my athletes get an ACL injury but the danger is there. Field turf doesn't "give" when you attempt to twist on a planted foot (like grass would).  I have been told by a Physical Therapist that wearing turf shoes is helpful on field turf to avoid such injuries.  But, like most teenagers, my players don't listen to me and continue to play in hard ground cleats.  I have switched to turf shoes because I am willing to sacrifice a bit of speed and quickness in order to not tear my ACL


February 21st, 2012 at 7:07 AM ^

I know that when I played football, soccer and rugby at different points in high school, soccer seemed to be the most dangerous on field turf (as well as frustrating...the damn ball never stops). Wearing turf shoes is an interesting proposal.


February 21st, 2012 at 11:39 AM ^

When I played high school football coaches just told us to wear shorter screw-ins.  I always thought that the draw of field turf was less injuries due to a more consistent field surface.  Perhaps there are a smaller number of injuries but the ones that do occur are more severe?

swan flu

February 21st, 2012 at 12:39 PM ^

Ive always thought the benefit of field turf was that it was cheaper than resodding every year...


I think field turf's consistant surface may reduce the occurance of sprained ankles, but the lack of "give" in the surface definately can contribute to a sprained or torn cruciate ligament.  It also feels like conrete when you fall on it awkardly.  I hate field turf.


Also, screw ins are completely banned in high school now, so there's no adjusting your cleats any more.


February 21st, 2012 at 6:24 PM ^

A lot changes over the years.

I think the draw for field turf at the local level is what you said, less maintenance and more usage. 

But at the college pro level I thought it was injury related. 

Does it peeve anyone else that spartan stadium has grass and we have field turf?


February 21st, 2012 at 8:00 AM ^

there was a sports science type thing on HBO or something a few years ago that looked at this in depth.  Something about the angle of a womans bones and the extra tension put on their ligaments during certain maneuvers...I'll see if I can dig it up. 

GL Masters

February 21st, 2012 at 12:29 PM ^

Interestingly enough, I just read a recent paper that refutes the assertion that female steroid hormones adversely affect tendon properties. It was interesting to me, as this is a theory that I have often heard expressed.

Muscle and tendon properties during menstrual cycle
Kubo K, et al.
Int J Sports Med, 2009, 30, 139–143