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How Do Veins and Valves Work?

Healthy legs have veins with very smooth elastic walls that are designed to adapt to the changes in pressure within a vein. Deoxygenated blood is pumped through a series of veins and venous valves. As the leg muscles are activated (contract) the valves in the veins open to allow blood to flow back towards the heart.

Each valve has two opposed flaps that act like gates opening in one direction stopping blood from moving back down the leg. The continuous activity of the muscles in the body squeezes the veins and forces the blood from valve to valve. When the leg muscles are tightened the valves open to allow blood to pass through. When the muscles are relaxed the valves close to stop any backflow.