ACL injuries more ‘common’ among females in basketball

Newly renovated basketball and volleyball courts. Nicole Malanga/PantherNow

By Cristhian Plasencia/Asst. Sports Director


Female basketball players stand a much higher chance of knee ligament injuries compared to their male counterparts, according to a study by the American Journal of Sports Medicine.

“ACL injuries are one of the common injuries in women’s basketball, besides the usual ankle sprains,” said Coach Tiara Malcom, FIU Women’s Basketball. “It’s a matter of our conditioning coaches and medical staff communicating and monitoring the players, also considering past injuries.”

Anterior cruciate ligament injuries occur often in basketball due to the fast tempo of basketball. The constant pivoting and twisting that the players endure are some of the contributing factors to the injury.

The ligaments are strong bands of tissue, which connect one bone to another. The ACL is one of two ligaments that cross the middle of the knee, connecting the thighbone to the shinbone.

ACL reconstruction is the most common surgery in female athletes, especially participating in the WNBA combine, according to a study by The American Journal of Sports Medicine. It reported 73 athletes (14.4 percent) had surgery on their ACL before entering the WNBA combine.

Rehabilitation from an ACL reconstruction surgery to having normal activity in your knees, it takes approximately six to nine months, depends on the tear whether it’s partial or complete.

Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Moira McCarthy told Reuters Health how intrigued she was by the number of players coming into the WNBA with knee surgeries. Dr. McCarthy is an orthopedic surgeon with a specialty in sports surgery at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.

McCarthy began a research on 500 women athletes entering the WNBA combine from 2000-2008 to figure out if reconstruction of those player’s ACL shortened their career. Before such study, WNBA player’s longevity was unknown.

Whether WNBA players get surgery or not, the average career last from three to four years, while their counterpart NBA players average 4.8 years.

Due to the high amount of ACL injuries, coach Malcom believes referees try to slow down the pace of the game.

“Unlike the men’s game, the women’s basketball foul calls come more frequent due to precaution, but officials should let them play. It gets frustrating at time when referees don’t allow players to play physical. They clean up the game too much.”

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