In high school and college I ran long distance events in track and cross country. The coaches spent a lot of time discussing shin splints. As it was described at the time, it is the result of thin muscles along the face of the shin becoming detached from the bone, allowing the muscle tissue to painfully rub against the bone. The treatment was to tape the shins to hold the muscles in place until they had time to naturally reattach to the shin. At that time the coaches also told us that to run faster each stride should make ground contact on the pad of the foot and not the heel. However, I began to notice that runners who made ground contact with the heel and then rolled the foot so that the pad and finally toes were making contact, never seemed to suffer from shin splints. I adopted heel contact first, (similar to normal walking) and never suffered from shin splints, even though 20 to 50 mile jogs were common training runs for us. I do know from other runners who had them, once that muscle detached, you would not heal without taping, and healing took months if one continued to train with shin splints.
I'm no doctor, or sports medicine expert, so this is just my two cents based on personal running experience.