How Can Musicians Injure themselves?

Musicians must practice long hours and often times develop what is called a repetitive strain injury (RSI).  This can be anywhere in the body from the jaw, arm, leg, hand, fingers, low back, shoulder.  This can greatly effect their jobs and keep them out of work for long periods of time because the discomfort is too hard to deal with while working.   Unfortunately, a lot of musicians and people in general think that discomfort will go away on its own.  If you are experiencing discomfort in your body, it means there is a problem.  Your body is trying to tell you something and is trying to protect itself from further damage by giving you pain or some kind of discomfort so you don’t make your injury worse.

Most times, I see people who have pushed it so far that they now can’t play and can’t work and they want fast results.  Unfortunately, what has happened is an injury and injuries take time and dedication to heal, not to mention stay incident free.

So, how do RSIs happen?

Lets begin by letting you know that the brain and spinal cord (Nervous System) control everything in your body.  That means your organs (heart/lungs), glands (release hormones/substances), tissues, immune system.  As you know, your brain is involved in everything so this should make sense.

Stress interferes with your body, especially your nervous system.  When your body can not get rid of stress it stores in the body and presents itself as a symptom.  There are 3 different stress:

1. Physical: Stressful lifestyle choices like sitting slouched (posture), falls or accidents etc.

2. Chemical: Bad food, pesticides, toxic chemicals in the body (smoking/junk food)

3. Emotional: Stress from Family, work, relationship, death of a loved one or animal

Continued stress from these different areas will cause the body to tighten up and effect your posture, spine and muscles.  Then the nervous system will be effected and then will effect all the areas that the nervous system sends signals to.  This is called a subluxation.  Subluxations untreated will lead to diseases, sickness and discomfort in the body.

What is fairly common is for me to hear people say they felt great before and had no problems and then the symptom suddenly appeared.  Problems arise when the stress keeps happening and nothing is done about it to release it from the system.  Playing an instrument for 8 or more hours per day is stressful to the body.  Eating foods that aren’t good for you causes more stress, then if you are worried about anything else will effect the body as well.  Everything starts building up and the body will give you some signals.  It may be tight or you may feel a tweak or shock for a second and then it goes away.  This is a warning sign of things to come.  Don’t ignore this or next time it will be a harsher signal.  The problem is that people feel these signs and they ignore them until there is so much discomfort that they can’t deal with it anymore.  This is a great example of how built up stress will effect everything and lead to sickness and discomfort.

We can help by getting rid of such stress in the body.  We not only do any physical tests we need to do, but we have a diagnostic machine that tracks stress in the body.  It is non-invasive and will let us know where this stress is storing in the nervous system.  Pretty cool huh?   Give us a call today to make an appointment and see how we can help release stored stress in your body and keep you playing and feeling great at the same time!

Runners May Be In Great Shape, But They Are Prone To Injuries

By most estimates, nearly 70 percent of runners will become injured. While many of their injuries will appear minor, they can become more serious over time if not properly treated.

Running injuries may impact other areas of the body as well. Because I am an extremity expert as well as a chiropractor, I am trained to look at the body.   I want to identify the true source of the problem treat any malfunction in the body and develop a training or rehabilitation program to solve it.

Among the most common running-elated injuries are:

  • Runner’s Knee – This is the most common running-related injury. Known as patello-femoral pain, and sometimes diagnosed as chondromalacia of the patella, runner’s knee is essentially irritation of the cartilage of the kneecap. The condition results in pitting or fissuring of the cartilage to varying degrees. While running, various mechanical conditions may predispose runners to a poorly tracking kneecap. This can result in irritation and/or damage to the kneecap. Runners will notice pain near the kneecap, especially after sitting for extended periods of time with knees bent or while walking down stairs or downhill. Appropriate treatment involves eliminating or modifying activities that cause the pain; correcting improper biomechanics that allow the injury to arise; and avoiding positions that further irritate the condition, such as sitting for prolonged periods of time.
  • Iliotibial Band Syndrome – Symptoms of this syndrome include pain or aching on the outside of the knee, usually occurring in the middle or at the end of a run. When you flex and extend your knee, the iliotibial band, which runs along the outside of the thigh, can become irritated from repetitive rubbing over the outside of the knee. There are several causes of this syndrome, including weak gluteal muscles, bowed legs, over-pronation of the foot, leg length discrepancy, and running on uneven surfaces. Running on a circular track may also contribute to the problem. As with other running injuries, athletes should decrease their training regimen. In addition, they should also add stretches for the ouside of their thigh to their warm-up program, avoid running on uneven or circular track surfaces, and some should wear motion control running shoes.
  • Shin Splints – Also called medial tibial stress syndrome, “shin splints” refers to pain occurring in either the front or inside portions of the lower leg. Tenderness extends along the length of the lower leg at either of the surfaces. Those most at risk for shin splints are beginning runners who are not yet used to the stresses of running or who have not stretched or strengthened properly. To care for shin splints, runners should decrease their training, and begin with ice and rest, later adding strengthening of their lower leg muscles. They may use swimming and biking as alternative forms of exercise. If symptoms persist, runners should consult their physicians.
  • Achilles Tendinitis – The Achilles tendon is the connection between the heel and the muscles of the lower leg. Several factors contribute to the development of Achilles tendinitis, including excessive hill running, sudden increases in training, and improper shoes. One of the major factors is excessive tightness of the posterior muscles of the leg, including the calf muscles and the hamstrings. Runners with this condition should reduce their running. They can use ice and gentle stretching to reduce pain and tightness. If not treated properly, Achilles tendinitis can develop into a chronic problem.
  • Heel Pain (Heel Spurs and Plantar Fasciitis) – The most common heel problems are caused by strain of the plantar fascia, which extends from the heel to the toes. Strain in this tissue can become very painful, especially with the first steps of the day. The condition can cause swelling at the origin of the plantar fascia at the heel. The pain is most noticeable when the foot flattens during weightbearing or when pushing off with the toes during walking or running, and it is usually located near the heel. The problems tend to occur in flat, flexible feet and in high arched, stiff feet. Left untreated, the pain can spread around the heel. Treatment should include a decrease in the intensity and duration of running workouts. Runners should also evaluate their running shoes for excessive wear and for proper fit. The wrong shoe for a foot type can worsen biomechanical flaws and cause plantar fasciitis.

Runners can take several precautions to prevent being sidelined because of an injury. While some of these steps might seem time-consuming or expensive, they are a good way to keep you on the right track.

  • Prepare for exercise/activities – Understand what muscle groups will be used and slowly start conditioning them by strengthening them. Talk with a PM&R physician to determine the appropriate type of exercises.
  • Properly stretch muscles before running – Muscles and joints need to warm up before beginning a run. Also be sure to allow for a “cooling down” period afterward.
  • Use an appropriate running shoe – There are several brands and models of running shoes. Make sure you are using the type best suited for your feet and your running style. Running shoes should also be replaced regularly. Consult a specialty running store to choose an appropriate shoe.
  • Incorporate hard days and easy days into your training program – Mileage should only be increased approximately 10 percent each week. Runners should make sure to decrease their mileage slightly every third week as a way to allow for recovery prior to additional mileage increases. Runners should also be patient with their development, being careful not to push themselves too far or too fast.
Some information provided by the 2012 American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: http://www.aapmr.org/patients/conditions/msk/Pages/runfact.aspx

What is Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome?

Chronic exertional compartment syndrome is an uncommon, exercise-induced neuromuscular condition that causes pain, swelling and sometimes even disability in affected muscles of your legs or arms.

Anyone can develop chronic exertional compartment syndrome, but it’s more common in athletes who participate in sports that involve repetitive movements, such as running, fast walking, biking and swimming. Chronic exertional compartment syndrome is sometimes called chronic compartment syndrome or exercise-induced compartment syndrome.

Symptoms:

The pain and other symptoms associated with chronic exertional compartment syndrome may be characterized by:

1. Aching, burning or cramping pain in the affected limb — usually the lower leg, but sometimes the thigh, upper arm, forearm or hand

2. Tightness in the affected limb

3. Numbness or tingling in the affected limb

4. Weakness of the affected limb

5. Foot drop, in severe cases, if nerves in your legs are affected

6. Occasionally, swelling or bulging as a result of a muscle hernia

Pain typically happens soon after you start exercising the affected limb, gets progressively worse for as long as you exercise, stops 15 to 30 minutes after the affected limb comes to rest and over time, may begin to persist longer after exercise, possibly lingering for a day or two.

Taking a complete break from exercise may relieve your symptoms, but usually once you take up running again, your symptoms usually come back unless you continue to stretch and do keep up to date with your rehabilitative exercises.

If you experience unusual pain, swelling, weakness, loss of sensation, or soreness related to exercise or sports activities, talk to your doctor because these symptoms may be associated with conditions that require emergency medical treatment. Don’t try to exercise through the pain, as that may lead to permanent muscle or nerve damage — and jeopardize continued participation in your favorite sports.

Sometimes chronic exertional compartment syndrome is mistaken for shin splints. If you think you have shin splints but they don’t get better with self-care, talk to your doctor.

What are the causes?

Your arms and legs have several groupings, or compartments, of muscles, blood vessels and nerves. Each of these compartments is encased by a thick layer of connective tissue called fascia (FASH-ee-uh), which supports the compartments and holds the tissues within each compartment in place. The fascia is inelastic, which means it has little ability to stretch.

In chronic exertional compartment syndrome, exercise or even repetitive muscle contraction causes the tissue pressure within a compartment to increase to an abnormally high level. But because the fascia can’t stretch, the tissues in that compartment aren’t able to expand sufficiently under the increased pressure. Imagine shaking up a soda bottle but leaving the cap on — an enormous amount of pressure builds up.

As the pressure builds up within one of your muscle compartments, with no outlet for release, nerves and blood vessels are compressed. Blood flow may then decrease, causing tissues to get inadequate amounts of oxygen-rich blood, a condition known as ischemia (is-KE-me-uh). Nerves and muscles may sustain damage.

Experts aren’t sure why exercise or muscle contraction creates this excessive pressure in some people, leading to chronic exertional compartment syndrome. Some experts suggest that biomechanics — how you move, such as landing styles when you jog — may have a role. Other causes may include having enlarged muscles, an especially thick or inelastic fascia, or high pressure within your veins (venous hypertension).

In chronic exertional compartment syndrome, exercise or even repetitive muscle contraction causes the tissue pressure within a compartment to increase to an abnormally high level. But because the fascia can’t stretch, the tissues in that compartment aren’t able to expand sufficiently under the increased pressure. Imagine shaking up a soda bottle but leaving the cap on — an enormous amount of pressure builds up.

As the pressure builds up within one of your muscle compartments, with no outlet for release, nerves and blood vessels are compressed. Blood flow may then decrease, causing tissues to get inadequate amounts of oxygen-rich blood, a condition known as ischemia (is-KE-me-uh). Nerves and muscles may sustain damage.

Experts aren’t sure why exercise or muscle contraction creates this excessive pressure in some people, leading to chronic exertional compartment syndrome. Some experts suggest that biomechanics — how you move, such as landing styles when you jog — may have a role. Other causes may include having enlarged muscles, an especially thick or inelastic fascia, or high presse within your veins (venous hypertension).

What are the risk factors?

The condition is most common in athletes under 40, although people of any age can develop chronic exertional compartment syndrome.

People most at risk of developing chronic exertional compartment syndrome are those who engage in exercise that involves repetitive motions or activity. Young female athletes may be at particular risk, for reasons unknown.

Risk factors include engaging in such sports, exercises and activities as:

  • Running
  • Football
  • Soccer
  • Biking
  • Tennis
  • Gymnastics

Overuse of your muscles or overtraining — that is, working out too intensely or too frequently — also can raise your risk of chronic exertional compartment syndrome.

Chronic exertional compartment syndrome isn’t a life-threatening condition and usually doesn’t cause any lasting or permanent damage if you seek appropriate treatment. However, if you continue to exercise despite pain, the repeated increases in compartment pressure can lead to muscle, nerve and blood vessel damage. As a result, you may develop permanent numbness or weakness in affected muscles.

Perhaps the biggest complication of untreated chronic exertional compartment syndrome is its impact on participation in your favorite sports — the pain may prevent you from being active.


Don’t try to exercise through your pain. Limit your physical activities to those that don’t cause pain. For example, if running bothers your legs, you may be able to swim. Use ice or take omega 3s until you can see your doctor and make sure this is NOT an emergency.

The following basic sports and fitness guidelines can help protect your health and safety during exercise:

  • Warm up before starting exercise.
  • Cool down when you’re done exercising.
  • Stop if you’re in pain.
  • Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program if you have any health issues.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Engage in a variety of physical activities.

Sections of this article are published on http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/chronic-exertional-compartment-syndrome/DS00789

What turraine is best for running?

Soft or hard surfaces while running?  That is what people ask me all of the time.  I normally like to tell them to run on the beach barefoot since this is the best for shock absorption of the foot.  But….if someone is getting over a sprain, it is not good to have them run on uneven soft surfaces because the ankle or leg can’t handle the bumps and it may irritate old chronic injuries.

Running on hard surfaces is hard on the body and does add shock to the foot and kinetic chain.  I guess the answer to the question of running on soft surfaces versus hard ones depends on the individual and what is going on with them.  Here is a great article discussing the differences between each option.

Article:

Hirofumi Tanaka, an exercise physiologist at the University of Texas at Austin, bristles when he sees dirt paths carved out of the grass along paved bicycling or running routes. The paths are created by runners who think softer ground protects them from injuries.

Dr. Tanaka, a runner, once tried it himself. He was recovering from a knee injury and an orthopedist told him to stay away from hard surfaces, like asphalt roads, and run instead on softer surfaces, like grass or dirt. So he ran on a dirt path runners had beaten into the grass along an asphalt bike path.

The result? “I twisted my ankle and aggravated my injury while running on the softer and irregular surface,” he said.

In the aftermath of his accident, Dr. Tanaka said he could not find any scientific evidence that a softer surface is beneficial to runners, nor could other experts he asked. In fact, it makes just as much sense to reason that runners are more likely to get injured on soft surfaces, which often are irregular, than on smooth, hard ones, he said.

His experience makes me wonder. Is there a good reason why many runners think a soft surface is gentler on their feet and limbs? Or is this another example of a frequent error we all make, trusting what seems like common sense and never asking if the conventional wisdom is correct?

Perhaps a runner who, like me, strikes the ground with her forefoot instead of her heel, might risk more injuries on softer ground. After all, every time I push off on a soft surface, I twist my foot.

Exercise researchers say there are no rigorous gold-standard studies in which large numbers of people were assigned to run on soft or hard surfaces, then followed to compare injury rates.

There’s a good reason for that, said Stuart J. Warden, director of the Indiana Center for Translational Musculoskeletal Research at Indiana University. It’s too hard to recruit large numbers of people willing to be randomly assigned to one surface or another for their runs.

“I think the reason people haven’t answered that question is that it is not an easy question to answer,” Dr. Warden said.

When Dr. Willem van Mechelen, head of public and occupational health at VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, searched for published studies on running injuries and how to prevent them, he, too, concluded that there were no good studies that directly support running on softer ground. “Significantly not associated with running injuries seem age, gender, body mass index, running hills, running on hard surfaces, participation in other sports, time of the year and time of the day,” Dr. van Mechelen concluded.

So what is going on? It seems obvious that the forces on your legs and feet are different depending on whether you run on soft packed dirt or on hard concrete. Why aren’t injury rates affected?

An answer that many accept comes from studies that addressed the question indirectly. In several of them, study subjects ran on plates that measured the force with which they struck the ground. Instead of varying the hardness of the ground, the researchers varied the cushioning of the shoes. More cushioning approximated running on softer ground.

Over and over again, studies like these found that the body automatically adjusts to different surfaces — at least, as mimicked by cushioning in shoes — to keep forces constant when foot strikes plate.

That finding makes sense, Dr. Warden said. If you jump from a table to the floor, you automatically bend your knees when you land. If you jump on a trampoline, you can keep your knees stiff when you land. Something similar happens when you run on different surfaces.

“If you run on a hard surface, your body decreases its stiffness,” Dr. Warden said. “Your knees and hips flex more. On a soft surface, your legs stiffen.” Running on a soft surface “is basically a different activity,” he said.

But those studies did not actually measure forces inside the body, Dr. van Mechelen noted. Instead, they used biomechanical modeling to estimate those forces.

“It is models, so God knows whether it is true,” Dr. van Mechelen said. “But to me it doesn’t seem far-fetched.”

Dr. Warden said some people adapt quicker than others to running surfaces, and he advised that anyone wanting to change from a soft to a hard surface, or vice versa, play it safe and make the change gradually.

Changing your running surface, Dr. Warden said, “is much like increasing your mileage, changing your shoes or some other aspect of your training program.” Abrupt changes can be risky.

But with no evidence that softer surfaces prevent injuries, there is no reason to run on softer ground unless you like to, Dr. Warden and other experts said. Dr. van Mechelen tells runners to get a pair of comfortable shoes and run on whatever surface they prefer.

Dr. van Mechelen, a runner himself, says his favorite surface is asphalt. Mine is too.

My coach, Tom Fleming, never suggested soft surfaces and never thought they prevented injuries. And, he said, there’s a good reason to run on asphalt, at least if you want to compete.

“Most road races are on hard roadways,” he told me. “So let’s get used to them.”

References: Gina Kolata NY Times

What Is Restless Leg Syndrome?

Restless Leg Syndrome is a “restless” urgency to move because of burning, tingling, tugging sensations in the legs.  People can not sleep and loose sleep because of it.  It is becoming increasingly more popular and people really don’t know what to do about it.  Sitting for long periods of time and sedentary lifestyles have begun to take its toal on the hips, low back and legs leading to symptoms of RLS and Sciatica.

How can it be eliminated?
I have found that simple pelvic adjusting and at times the legs has decreased the frequency of these sensations and most times keep them at bay for good.  Good posture, exercise and soft tissue work can increase blood flow and relax the legs and hips.  Caffeine, alcohol and tobacco all exacerbate restless leg syndrome so, like always, keep off the junk food, drink lots of water and take care of yourself!  If you still have problems with Restless Leg Syndrome, give us a call, we can help!

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Complex regional pain syndrome “CRPS” occurs when a you have severe pain typically affecting one arm or leg. Often this problem begins after an extreme injury.

Symptoms include strong, burning pain in your extremity (leg, foot, arm or hand). You may also experience swelling, stiffness and damage to the area involved. Decreased movement, muscle loss, weakness or spasms may also become frequent. Skin temperature changes from hot to cold, alterations of color from white to red and blue with tender, thin and shiny skin are also common with this type of problem.  This pain, if untreated will get worse.

This syndrome happens after experiencing a Shrapnel blast, gunshot wound, surgery, heart attack, fractures or infections. Your nerves can be highly affected by this type of trauma to your body.

If you are experiencing this problem, please give us a call we can help!

Kneecap (Patella) Pain And Instability, What Can Be Done?

Proper movement of the hip and leg are essential for walking, jumping, running. During any leg movement, your kneecap (patella) moves up and down because of contraction and relaxation of the quadriceps muscles. Bending your leg pulls the kneecap down and straightening your leg brings it up.

There is an indention or groove in the front of your leg that allows the kneecap to glide smoothly up and down and not rub directly onto the bone. Sometimes the indention is not deep enough, muscles are not working properly or your bone is out of place.  This can cause your kneecap to move improperly and slide outside of the groove. In time, this promotes arthritis, pain and long term bad body mechanics. This can lead to painful surgery and long periods of rehabilitation.

Here are some symptoms of kneecap instability and incorrect body mechanics:

    • 1. Knee buckles and can no longer support your weight

2. Kneecap slips off to the side

3. Knee catches during movement

4. Pain in the front of the knee that increases with activity (especially while running)

5. Pain when sitting, standing or bending

6. Stiffness

7. Cracking sounds during movement

8. Swelling and pain

Treatment:

If the kneecap has been completely dislocated out of the indention or groove, it must be put back. This is not as painful as it sounds. Sometimes it can happen when you are bending or moving. The kneecap just pops back into place. Other times, it is gently placed back in the groove with an adjustment.
During an examination, I can normally figure out if one of your quadriceps muscles is either too strong or too weak. This can lead an improper pull of the kneecap during movement. Stretches or exercises can even out the force in the area and keep your kneecap moving properly.

Allowing the kneecap to move properly in the groove will keep the risk of arthritis, tendonitis and knee replacement at low risk.  It will also allow you to keep the active life style that you need to stay fit and healthy.

Anterior Compartment Syndrome Can Be Serious

Compartment syndrome is a serious condition that involves increased pressure in the lower leg.  It can lead to muscle and nerve damage and problems with blood flow.

Causes:
There are tissues called fascia that are wrapped around groups of muscles which separate them from one another so we can move each of them individually.   Inside each layer of fascia is a space known as a compartment. Inside this compartment includes muscle tissue, nerves, and blood vessels. Fascia surrounds these structures and allows them to work properly.

Fascia has trouble expanding.  If there is swelling it will increase the pressure in that area, pressing muscles, blood vessels, and nerves.  This pressure if it is high enough, blocks blood flow to the area.  If not treated, the tissues can become permanently injured because of the lack of oxygen and blood flow. Muscles can die and the leg may actually be amputated.   So treating this condition is imperative.

Swelling can occur from car accidents, crushing the muscles and tissue, fractures, or numerous soft tissues.

Life-time athletes can get compartment syndrome from the repetitiveness of their sport.  It is very common in runners.

The most common areas in the body where this syndrome occurs is in the lower leg and forearm.  It can also occur in any extremity in the body.

What are the symptoms?
The most common way of determining if you have compartment syndrome is severe pain that doesn’t go away when moving the affected extremity even if on pain medication!  Here are some other symptoms:

  • Decreased sensation
  • Loss of color on the skin
  • Severe pain that keeps getting worse
  • Weakness in the affected area
  • Severe pain when squeezing or moving the affected area
  • Swollen and shiny skinHow do we manage this problem?
    If not severe and in early stages, Graston Technique can be very effective.  Graston allows tools to get into the muscle and fascia and release the pressure and blood will begin to filter instead of pool in the area.  Adjustments of the joint can also help with better movement and releasing of the fascia.  If pain and symptoms still persist, surgery is sometimes performed to release the pressure.Surgery consists of long cuts made to the fascia to relieve the pressure and get blood flow.  After the surgery it is important to recondition the tissues and keep blood flowing to the area and allow for proper re-growth.  Graston, Cold Laser, exercises and chiropractic treatment are helpful after surgery as well.

The good news is that if you have this problem and it is managed correctly, you can go back to your daily activities without a problem.  It is hard work but the body can be restored.

If you are having extremity pain, call us at our Redwood City Office, we can help.

What to do about your High Foot Arch

How does this happen?

High arches can be genetic or in most cases can be caused by wearing improper shoes and/or imbalances of leg muscles.  Muscle imbalance can arch the foot.  This puts additional pressure under the big toe and toes begin to curl and become “claw toes”.  If the toes are curled, it changes the way we walk and stand. We begin putting added pressure on the heel of the foot and because of this, some muscles weaken and others become stronger.  We also tend to land on the outside of the foot, which can lead to twisted ankles and sprains.

A high arch foot may develop because the posterior tibialis muscle next to your shin becomes strong, but the muscle on the outside of the leg (peroneus brevis) remains weak.   This moves the foot in a position that adds strain to the arch and forefoot.  It is important to stretch the strong muscle and strengthen the weak one.    Making sure the foot moves properly is imperative.   There are 26 bones in the feet and they all have joints.  These joints can be moved with gentle guidance allowing your foot to be in a better position and relieve the stress on the big toe.

So how can we help?

We can teach you how to strengthen the proper muscles of your leg and relax strong muscles to keep a balance in your feet.  We also keep your foot moving properly with gentle adjusting and soft tissue work. We can also make custom orthotics, which may be necessary to keep your foot in proper position and prevent twisting and pulling on your leg muscles.

Do You Get Leg Cramps At Night?

Nocturnal leg cramps are contractions of the calf muscles and/or cramping of the soles of the feet that occur while you are sleeping or at rest. Middle-aged and older people most commonly get them, but it can happen at any age.  The cramps can affect persons in any age group, but they tend to occur in middle-aged and older populations.

There has not been any clear research results that have shown the cause of what causes nocturnal leg cramps. It has been hypothesized that nerves controlling your muscles cause the contractions. It is common to have leg cramps during dream sleep.  This is why some researchers think these cramps are because of a malfunction in the nervous system.  Our brain is not sending the proper messages to our muscles when we are dreaming.

Often, nighttime cramps are caused by overexertion of the muscles, having flat feet, standing on hard surfaces, long periods of sitting, improper leg positions while sitting, or dehydration.  Muscular individuals get leg cramps much more often than lean body types.  This can be because tight muscles do not get the proper blood supply and tighten the nerves, which then irritate them. Keeping your calves loose can often prevent night cramps.   Applying heat to your calves may help because this will increase the blood flow.

Low levels electrolytes (magnesium, potassium, calcium, sodium) can contribute to cramps.  Vegetables and fruits contain electrolytes and there are many lists online to follow.  Please look them up and add some to your diet.  Here is a brief list to get you started:

Potassium:  Beef, liver, fish, fruit (esp. bananas), apricots, cantaloupe, grapefruit, peas, bean, potatoes. The daily recommended amount (DRA) is 3500mg.

Magnesium: Beef, poultry, fish, nuts, grains, legumes, and green vegetables. DRA is 400mg.

Calcium: Milk products, leafy, green vegetables, soybeans, broccoli, and tofu. DRA is 1000mg.

Sodium: Table salt. DRA is 2400mg

When cramping happens, walking on the affected leg or elevating it may help.   Take a hot shower or warm bath; this may help relax your muscles.

To keep cramps at a minimum or get rid of them for good, I would suggest drinking a lot of water, eating foods with electrolytes in them.  You may be surprised by the results.