How do you prevent age-related stiffness?

I'm 40. And for most of my life I have been flexible. I've always walked a lot, and swam. I did a lot of gymnastics and yoga, and am always sitting in contorted postures. I like double crossing my legs, or hugging my knees. BUT...

I'm noticing more these days that I wake up stiff and spend most of my days stiff.

  • My shoulder is stiff from an old horse riding accident (I don't have full range of motion anymore).
  • My hips are stiff (particularly groin - noticeable when horse riding - which I only do sporadically now on one side) and both hip flexors.
  • My neck is stiff, particularly on the side of the shoulder and it hurts to stretch it to the opposite side. Agh.

This all started in my 30s, when I noticed that I was getting a lot of injuries at the gym. I was told back then, that I have one leg longer than the other by 1.5 cms, but no amount of physio or massage, or even orthotics in my shoes, helped. The injuries piled up - my shoulder - my hips and knee...

I watched my mother go down the same route! She's as stiff as a board now, and can hardly walk, and always complaining about pains in her shoulders, hips, knees, neck... I never gave her the benefit of the doubt, and tried to get her up and walking, thinking that it would alleviate her pain. Not realizing, that she was already in pain, and walking was actually really awful for her. She's in a wheelchair now. I don't want to go the same way... but I'm already on the same path!

I try to force myself to stretch, and move. But, the problem is, if I'm not super careful when it comes to exercise I get injured. If I do too many downward dogs, my shoulder or wrist twinges. If I life weights wrong, my knee twinges... It's like my entire skeleton or muscle structure is out of balance.

I'm trying to do yoga or at least some daily stretches, but it's painful and doesn't seem to alleviate the problem.

Over the years I've seen various 'healers' from osteopaths to chiropractors, stretch therapists and physio therapists. I've always had massages, I've rolled on foam rollers and lacrosse balls. there's nothing I haven't tried. Whenever I go for a massage my therapist tells me HOW TENSE my muscles are! She usually kneads me and pummels me with Thai massage techniques as well as oil massage. Nothing helps, week after week I go back, and I'm NEVER any less tense.

I've been wheat free and Primal for almost 2 years. And while this has helped me with my digestive issues and mind fog, it has done nothing for this muscle stiffness.

What can I do?