"Shin splints” is a general term for a condition caused by inflammation to the anterior or posterior muscles and tendons in the lower leg, or adjacent soft tissue along the shin bone. In almost all cases, this is quite painful and does not heal quickly. Below are a few quick things to keep in mind while exercising, in order to take a proactive approach against shin splints.
Proper footwear is crucial, duh. Don't use shoes that are worn out, and choose a pair that meets your needs. Many shoe stores can help you choose the right shoes by examining your current shoes and evaluating your stride. Find a store in your area that has a knowledgeable staff willing to spend some time with you.
Most athletic and comfort shoe manufacturers offer a variety of styles with different cushioning, stability, and motion control features, so work with someone who can help you find the features that are right for you.
If you have faulty foot mechanics, a doctor or trainer may recommend orthotics -- custom fit, anatomically molded shoe inserts that realign the foot to a natural, neutral position. This in turn relieves foot and leg stresses and prevents a wide range of problems.
This is something that may be a little harder to do based on your location, but when you make the adjustment from a soft surface to a hard one, don't overdo it. Give your legs time to make the adjustment. For example, if you typically run or walk five miles on a soft surface, run or walk fewer miles on a hard surface until your muscles and soft tissue make the adjustment. Your muscles and soft tissue will get sore, so monitor your recovery time carefully and don't overdo it.
Being proactive is your best defense. Keep this in mind next time you start feeling shin pain.