The main cause of shin splints (along with stress fractures, which are far more serious) is putting more pressure on the legs than they can handle. They generally form after the body goes from low levels of physical activity to higher levels of activity and exercise. They can also form on frequent walkers and runners no matter how good of shape they are in, often because of shoes that do not provide adequate heel support. When this is the case, the solution to shin splints is to simply find better fitting shoes.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the Mayo Clinic, the most common remedy for shin splints is rest. Unless what you are dealing with is actually a more serious condition, the discomfort should subside after a week or two of rest. The McKinley Health Center of the University of Illinois suggests that the pain can be tempered by icing the affected areas or by taking an aspirin or other pain reliever, but this is only recommended as a supplement to rest – not an alternative. If the pain persists despite consistent rest, you may have a more serious condition, and should consult your physician.
Shin splints can often be prevented. If you go for weeks at a time without performing any type of exercise, you cannot expect to then jump right into a heavy routine. The body needs to work its way up to higher levels of durability, otherwise it begins to pick up damage. Rather than jumping right in with both feet, start by exercising about once every three days. Later, increase your workload to once every two days. Eventually, your body will regain (or, for particularly sedentary readers, gain) its tolerance and you will be able to exercise regularly.
The chances of preventing shin splints increase with stretching before exercise, gradually building up activity rather than going directly from a low activity level to a high activity level, and wearing comfortable well-fitting shoes.