Shin splints describes a variety of generalized pain that occurs in the front of the lower leg along the tibia (shin bone). Shin Splints are considered a cumulative stress injury because they often occur after repeated stress or jarring of the bones, muscles and joints without proper conditioning or recovery between workouts. The pain of shin splints is typically located on the outer front portion of the lower leg (anterior shin splints) or pain on the back inside of the lower leg (posterior medial shin splints.

The pain of shin splints is caused by trauma to either the muscles or bones of the lower leg.

Muscle trauma (exertional compartment syndrome) is often related to overtraining or excessive running on hard surfaces. Repeated use makes the muscles swell and puts pressure on the fascia that covers the muscles in the lower leg leading to pressure and pain.

Bone trauma to the lower leg can result in stress fractures. Constant pounding the leg bones may cause microscopic cracks and fractures in the tibia and fibula (lower leg bones). Rest is needed to repair these cracks, but without adequate recover, these cracks continue to grow and become a fracture. The result is acute pain and a long recovery.

Beginning runners are at increased risk of shin splints and stress fractures because they are not used to the high impact running has on the muscles and joints of the lower leg and foot. Running on hard surfaces (especially with worn, poorly cushioned footwear) increases stress on the muscles, joints and bones and is another cause of shin splints. Excessive pronation or other biomechanical problems can increase the risk of developing shin splints. Other causes of shin splints include:

Improper stretching
Lack of warm-up
Training too hard
Increasing mileage too quickly
Running or jumping on hard surfaces
Muscle imbalance between the posterior and anterior leg
Worn out shoes that do not have enough support
Running on a tilted or slanted surface
Other biome