A Happy Back translates to a Happy Translator

During the current and past lockdowns, interpreters and translators have noticed a measurable decline in face-to-face assignments and an increase in virtual assignments as well as accepting more written translations. Many of us realised that studying and adding extra qualifications like Level 6 DCI, Level 6 DPSI or Level 7 DipTrans with ISL could be beneficial for us to get more work during these hard times. Maybe now is the right time to look into what International School of Linguists offers so you could increase your income.

We are forced to work from home for long hours every day for months. We are using our home as our office and we smile into the camera from our workspace at home. Then without any warning our smile turns into a wincing frown due to increased pain in our back region including the neck and scapula.  The cause of this discomfort is probably due to a wrong posture whilst seated for any long period of time. Working on a sofa or low wooden chair without the correct postural alignment can trigger many problems with the spine.  

The possible solution to this much avoidable and uncomfortable experience is to get the right office ergonomic chair, combined with regular exercise by simply getting up and walking around performing gentle dynamic movements with some stretching exercises thrown in at periodic intervals during the course of your working day.

What is an ergonomic chair?

The ergonomic chair supports the lower back and promotes good posture. Ideally, we should try the chair we buy.  It is like buying a pair of shoes.  It would help if you tried them before you buy, so you know the chair is right for you.

Are you a translator who sits a lot and would you like to know more about the different types of office chairs?

International School of Linguists – ISL looked into this common issue, and we came up with the following advice:

1.         Kneeling Chair/Stool

This chair can improve the curvature of the lower spine. The great advantage of kneeling chair over a standard chair is that you don’t have to have your feet on the floor when using one. It works only if your desk and the rest of your workstation are set up correctly, and if you don’t slouch.


2.         Exercise Ball

Exercise balls improve spinal posture and increase the use of the spinal muscles. Disadvantages of these balls are that there is no height adjustment, and it has no positive effect on the upper body.


3.         Saddle Chairs

These chairs are the number one choice for dentists and anaesthetics because they are shown to reduce spinal pressure and prevent spinal injury. There is no need to adjust this chair; therefore, multiple people can use it in your household. The use of saddle chairs promotes better spinal postures, including those in the upper body, head and neck. They can be expensive and can be tiring on spine muscles.


4.         Ergonomic chairs

There are so many types of ergonomic office chairs on the market. These chairs are designed to support the whole body. Ergonomic chairs support function and comfort and reducing the risk of musculoskeletal problems, joint pain, back issues, neck pains and arthritis.

There are some features that are very important to look for in a good ergonomic chair:

a)         Seat height

The seat height should be easily adjustable to avoid unnecessary muscle strain that causes aching necks and backs.The seat height range is from about 16 to 21 inches off the floor.This allows you to have the feet flat on the floor, with thighs horizontal and arms even with the desk’s height. It would help if you had your knees and elbows at right angles, to minimise unnecessary muscle strain.

b)         Seat with a depth

The depth from front to back of the seat needs to be enough so you can sit with your back against the backrest and you should leave approximately 2 to 4 inches between the back of the knees and the seat of the chair. You can also adjust forward or backwards tilt of the seat.

c)         Lumbar support

The support which is given to your lower back and is an essential feature of an ergonomic chair. The lumbar support is not designed to take all your weight, just to act as a reminder to sit in an upright, S-shaped position.  It is very important to have this support because it prevents slumping and reduces stress on the spine and the pelvis. Any ergonomic chair should have a lumbar adjustment (both height and depth) and an adjustable backrest that allows the alignment of the curve in the chair with the curve in your spine, which afterwards supports the inward curve of the lower back.

d)         Backrest recline

This should be 12 to 19 inches wide and allows moving the backrest to more specifically support your natural spine position. Using this feature throughout the day allows the backrest to take some of the weight from your upper body, reducing the pressure on your spinal disks and muscles.

e)         Armrests

The armrests on any ergonomic chair should be adjustable. The elbows and lower arms should rest lightly. You should not rest your forearm on the armrests while you are typing.

f)          Materials

It is important to have enough padding on a chair so you can sit comfortably for extended periods of time. The material should not cause the user’s back to sweat. The high-end ergonomic chairs will use leather or velvet.

g)         Swivel

The chair should easily rotate so you could reach different areas of your desk without straining.

h)         Wheels

If you will use your chair on hard flooring, you should find a chair with soft rubber wheels. If your home office is carpeted, opt for hard wheels to help you navigate better.            

After purchasing your chair, you should ask for someone to take a photo of you sitting, so you can check whether your torso and head are in a straight line.

Low budget – Wayfair


Mid-range – John Lewis


High End – Back2


International School of Linguist wishes all our translators and interpreters many productive hours on their comfortable chairs.