Hello! I'm new to this forum, but not new to working out. I'm a 31 year-old female and I workout 7 days a week, alternating between cardio and strength training. I exercise mainly just to stay healthy, fit, and feel good about my body. I'm looking to just maintain the body I have and not training towards anything bigger- I'm pretty happy with the way I look now and maybe can improve a bit on a few areas, but the reason for my post is something different for now.

I've been pretty much following my same workout routine for the past 6-7 years, slowly increasing the weight and incorporating new workouts every few months or so. My problem is that on my strength training days, I don't warm up or stretch beforehand- I pretty must just jump into the heaviest part of my workout which is squatting with the heavy weights. I've never had any issues until recently, and I attribute it to my getting older, but now I notice that my muscles get strained and sore easily and can last for weeks, they click quite a bit, and what's really started to worry me now is a persistent pain in my right hip when I squat that is preventing my from being able to even complete my first set which I normally have no problem with at all. As I get into my other sets and have warmed up it mostly disappears. I thought it would be temporary but I've had it for about 2 weeks now.

As I'm no fitness/exercise expert, I wanted to get a few pointers on what kind of stretches and warming up I should be doing to prevent injury- and is it really the fact that I'm not stretching/warming up that is causing this? Should I do static stretching, or what is recommended? I've tried to stretch my hips a bit beforehand, but even that is now painful. I've been really lazy about it as I used to believe it's a waste of time, but obviously now I feel like it might be a necessary part of my routine.