I'm curious what all you excersisers do, if anything, in regard to stretching.
For a long time, I was obsessed with playing basketball. It can be a real addiction, where you just play at every opportunity, and play to exhaustion.
I did that for a long time, without stretching, then found out at about 48 years old, that doing a lot of hard running exercise, without being serious about stretching, can mess you up.
I had severe muscle spasms in my right hip, in my piriformis muscle, which is a hip rotator muscle. It lies directly on top of the sciatic nerve and if it spasms, it can put pressure on that nerve and create excruciating pain, enough to put you right down on the floor.
I took me about 3 years to get that straightened out. First with massage therapy, then stretching and flexibility classes (pilates and yoga).
It wasnt't just those hip muscles that were tight. All the muscles in my leg were very tight, without any length or flexibility. This was causing lower back pain, also.
And very tight muscles can also throw off your gait when running or even walking, which can cause stress on the knee joints.
Getting stretched out took awhile, and I never got as limber as the long time pilates and yoga people, but getting closer to normal flexibility at least helped a lot deal in being able to stay active.
I'm in my mid-50s now, and don't play basketball anymore, but still do a lot of walking and hiking, and keeping at least somewhat stretched out helps a lot with that too.
But stretching is a serious thing, and takes some time, effort, and learning techniques, if you are going to make gains. You can't do a half dozen toe touches and expect that to help. It just doesn't work that way.
The pilates and yoga classes helped a lot. You have an instructor, and you follow along, and you do these exercises for about an hour, twice a week. If you do that, you'll see progress.
Another thing that helps a lot is using foam rollers, which are just simple firm foam cylinders, that you roll your leg and hip mucsles across. This acts kind of like massage, loosening up the muscles some before you do the stretching exercises.