Nah, you're not falling apart:)
You should hear my back when I stretch! It sounds like every vertebrae pops. HAHA. Feels kinda good though, like tension or strain being released. Sadly doesn't last for long before the soreness comes back. But you get used to it. Creaking joints, early arthritis, back problems, etc, etc....all are part of the territory when it comes to horses. :)
It is not 'cool' to ride without a helmet! period.