Has your child been complaining of frequent headaches, back and shoulder pain or upper arm pain?

If so, one of the most common causes of all those things is improper sleeping positions, but there may be another culprit: your child’s backpack.

These days, almost every kid at school has one, and they are undeniably handy. Not only can your child pack the day’s lunch inside, but all the books and other supplies he or she will need to get through the school day.

Unfortunately, the weight of all those books and other items can add up quickly, and the load might be more than your little one’s back, neck and shoulders can bear. There are two big things to watch for that can help you determine if the backpack is the culprit, or if it’s something else.

The first and most obvious sign that the backpack could be the culprit is how your child is carrying it.

While all the cool kids might be slinging their packs over one shoulder, this can easily be the root cause of the problem, because carrying the load in that position is unbalanced. If your child does this, they will automatically adjust their posture to accommodate. After a whole day of walking around like that, the backpack can easily lead to the kinds of pain described above.

The second isn’t as noticeable, but you should look for the signs. If the weight of the pack is leaving red marks in your child’s skin where the straps hit the shoulders, that’s a clear indication that the weight is sufficient to cause strain.

In the former case, correcting the problem is as simple as insisting that your child wear his or her pack properly, with the straps over both shoulders. It might not be as cool, but it will certainly solve the pain problem.

In the latter case, it’s as simple as lightening the load. Find out which items aren’t absolutely essential, and if any of the pack’s contents can be off-loaded into your child’s school locker for part of the day to keep the weight manageable.

Do that, and you’ll minimize the risk of your child suffering from back, neck, shoulder and arm pain.