This review is intended to improve the understanding of and rationale for the use of the term shin splints. Currently the term is used widely and variably, with little consensus of definition. Broadly, it denotes the occurrence of exertional lower leg pain; more specifically, it refers to an anatomical site of periostitis. The literature reports a multiplicity of descriptions and definitions of shin splints resultant from the complex etiologies and differing perceptions of these conditions. It is proposed that the term shin splint be recognized as generic, rather than diagnostic, and that specific conditions that currently exist under this term be differentiated. The etiology and interaction of these related conditions are considered, and a classification based on the current literature is given of conditions currently termed shin splints, providing a rationale for their clinical presentations, investigative findings, and interactions.