Hormones regulate every function in our body. It is no surprise, then, that they regulate our bones, muscles, and connective tissues, and therefore have an influence over scoliosis itself. Often mild scoliosis as an adolescent goes undetected or untreated until the two later seasons (life phases) below.
The growth phase during puberty is the prime time for scoliosis to develop or worsen in adolescents, primarily girls. While the jury is still out on what exactly causes Idiopathic Adolescent Scoliosis, studies are showing that the hormone levels of kids with AIS are considerably imbalanced compared to those without scoliosis. This may be a discussion worth having with their doctor. Whatever the cause, however, and if any kind of hormone or nutritional therapies are undertaken, physical exercise to strengthen and support and attention to good postural habits are crucial to discourage the curve from progressing.
When we are pregnant, the hormone relaxin literally relaxes the ligaments to make us more “stretchy,” to prepare the body for birth. Although its main focus is the pelvis and the cervix, relaxin affects all the ligaments in our body. As the ligaments in the spine relax, scoliosis can develop or worsen, especially with poor posture. If you have scoliosis already and it hasn’t progressed much beyond adolescence, pregnancy can be a prime time for progression to happen.
Before becoming pregnant, a good course of action is to get into good shape, strengthening the back and core muscles in particular. These muscles support the spine and can discourage your curve from progressing. Practicing awareness of the most used shapes of your body (think leaning into your curve or slouching) and correcting your posture can go a long way towards prevention, too.
Menopause tends to trigger the loss of bone density, AKA osteoporosis, and can increase the risk of scoliosis developing or worsening. Wear and tear and deterioration of the vertebrae as we age can contribute or cause scoliosis, too. So what can be done?
1. Exercise Regularly: Exercise, specifically weight bearing exercise, is known to help prevent the loss of bone density. An exercise program tailored for scoliosis that includes stretching, strengthening and somatic movement aids in supporting the spine and bringing balance back to the body as a whole.
2. Eating a healthy, nutrient-rich diet and take your vitamins. I would even go so far as recommending seeing a nutritionist to be tested for what you may be lacking in and basing your nutritional needs upon the findings.
3. Spend time outdoors, preferably actively, which increases your vitamin D levels (spending more time in the sun)
4. If you smoke, stop.
5. Limiting your alcohol intake.
Whatever the reason or the season, being proactive with your or your child’s scoliosis can discourage the curve (and resulting discomfort) from progressing and improve quality of life.