It's bad enough that a motor vehicle accident can leave you with long-term pain and injury, but it seems even more insulting that how you sit in the vehicle can contribute to how you feel after an accident. Your car might not be the most ergonomic environment, but by sitting properly, you can reduce the risk of sustaining additional injuries that could result in chronic pain.

Arms in Front, Feet Down 

Isn't it nice to lower the window, prop your elbow up on the edge of the door, and breezily fly down the highway? It is unless you get into an accident. The odd position of your arm puts it and your shoulder in a more vulnerable position that could give you nerve and joint pain if the accident is severe enough. Your arm could be twisted into an unnatural position, or the jolt of being rear-ended could wrench your shoulder.

Your feet also need to be on the floor. Obviously, if you're the driver, that's already happening for you. But your passengers also need to avoid placing their feet up on the dashboard or outside the window. It seems fun, especially as a teen, but it could lead to horrific leg and back injuries if the car is in an accident while one of the passengers is sitting like this.

Thumbs Have Changed

Younger drivers are already trained to do this, but older drivers may still have the older habit of gripping the steering wheel with thumbs opposing the rest of the fingers and curling around the wheel. The correct grip now has the thumbs resting on top of the wheel along with the other fingers. This protects your thumbs and avoids broken thumbs should the wheel spin if the car is hit.

No Slouching, Anywhere

Sit up straight in the seat and ensure that your entire back rests along the back of the seat. Do not slouch forward with your shoulders or down so that your lower back doesn't touch the seat back. The seat helps cushion you if there's an impact, and slouching puts you in an odd position that isn't as protected.

No Craning, Anywhere

Your seat needs to be close enough and at the right height to let you see out the windshield without craning your neck in any direction. If you have to stretch to see over the steering wheel, get a seat cushion so you sit higher up. If you have to lean forward to grab the wheel, move the seat up. Don't assume that you have to have the seat back in a certain position to look cool when driving -- what's important is that you can comfortably and safely drive and not be at such a high risk of injury.

If you've been through an accident already and think you may have lingering joint issues, you may want to talk to a chiropractor to see about adjustments and therapeutic exercises.