One of the area’s foremost authorities on health and wellness, Dr. Matt Heckler, from Wilson Health’s Sports Medicine Department, shares the values of one of nature’s simplest health tips…hydration and drinking water, and how it keeps you healthy and promotes faster healing.
Sidney, OH – Dr. Matt Heckler, orthopedic surgeon and the director of Wilson Health’s Sports Medicine Department, has one health tip that trumps every other New Year’s resolution you might have already made
Simply put…drink more water.
Heckler practices with the Orthopedic Associates of Southwestern Ohio (OASWO), serving communities up and down I-75, and as far south as suburban Cincinnati. But to those who compete inside the Press Pros market of west-central Ohio he’s available from the gleaming new orthopedic facility across the street from Wilson Hospital, in Sidney. This week he took some time to explain a basic health principle often taken for granted, and overlooked for its value in getting healthy, and staying healthy.
Weeks ago, while driving, I overheard a conversation on ESPN radio about how the simple act of drinking water can help keep athletes’ joints healthy, and in the case of surgical repair, how it promotes faster healing. For further explanation, we called Dr. Heckler.
“It actually works for everyone,” says Heckler. “And it’s simple. We all need to pay more attention to the simple facets of better health, because so much of it is natural. The fact is, that we get so hung up on a surgery, how rehab is going to go, what’s my recovery look like, and how quickly can I get back on the field…that we lose track of the simple, old-school things that make it all work together better. The simple things like rest, ice, compression, and elevation…the old-school ‘rice’ concept of recovering from surgery.
“And with that are old-school concepts of nutrition,” he addds. “For our body to heal we need to feed it the elements and nutrition that it needs for recovery. I tell all of my patients who are undergoing surgery…I need you to be drinking 6 to 8 glasses of water a day. I need you to feed your body proteins and good fats, the building blocks your body needs to heal and recover.
“Remember, when you have a surgery you don’t eat or drink after midnight the day before, so you go into that procedure with your body slightly dehydrated and mal-nourished. Then you have this stress and impact to your body, you’re tired, you’re not eating, you’re not drinking…and we’ve done a repair on you where you’re asking your body to do a biology to heal skin, tissue and ligaments. So how can it do that with optimum performance if you’re starving it? Routinely, I see patients come in for their first post-operative appointment and they’re down ten pounds, because they’ve lost appetite. And if it’s a major surgery that fatigue and impact may last for several months. So I constantly stress…the concepts of hydration, proteins, and fats. And now we supplement these things even a couple of weeks prior to surgery, taking in more proteins…and then post-operatively for several weeks, as well.”
He sees it on a daily basis. Matt Heckler is one of the foremost orthopedic surgeons in the area, ranging from sports injuries to general day-to-day issues with clientele. His background is diverse, having served with the NFL, NBA, and Major League baseball communities, and for years as a trusted resource for area high school athletes in west-central Ohio. So when he talks about the more we know…the more we appreciate the concepts of what makes sense…that experience allows for a very high degree of consumer confidence.
“I haven’t been on a football field for some time, but if you think about it…players are often weighed before and after practice to measure water loss. So that player can hydrate after a two-a-day practice to promote recovery before the next practice. And if you’ve lost a certain percent of your body weight you might not go the next day. So these concepts are imperative…not just for recovery from surgery, but for everyday practice and everyday life. We see that in ourselves when we don’t properly take care of our nutrition. Tom Brady is a prime example. Did he play 23 years in the NFL because he didn’t eat and hydrate properly? No. Elite level athletes are dependent on nutrition and fluids for the sake of longevity, and career.
“That’s just as important to the rest of us for the sake of sustaining quality of life. And for that reason, I reiterate again the importance of supplementing even before a surgery…the need for hydration, proteins, fats, and nutrients. You need to prepare for the procedure, and not just mentally. You need to understand the mechanics of what you’re recovering from, and how to return to optimum health. The patients who recover best for me are the people who have a focus on the simple things – nutrition, rehabilitation, mental preparedness, and hydrating with the big 24 and 36-oz fluid intake, per day.”
The individual who first spoke about water intake on ESPN put it this way: your joints respond the same manner a car’s engine responds. It has to have fluids (motor oil) to decrease friction. Pistons and vital parts don’t operate without it. Proper hydration before, during, and after any activity ensures that our bodies operate in the same safe, and efficient manner.
“Repair of joints and knees is very straight-forward,” reminds Heckler. “It’s become very common to fix these kinds of injuries, with a 98% return to play after an ACL reconstruction. We know that rehab and therapy is critical to getting back on the field.
“But in this office we also stress the importance of hydration and diet to aid recovery. There’s a healing phase…there’s a therapy component to get the joint moving to restore range of motion…and then strength and function, building muscle mass back to its original state. And to build the body back to its original strength and range of motion…you have to feed it. You have to give it the nutrition and hydration it needs.”
Conclusion: Don’t underestimate the importance of the simple things, even a glass of water. It wouldn’t hurt, in fact…to get the 36-oz size!
So says Dr. Matt Heckler, of Orthopedic Associates of Southwest Ohio.