The veins in your legs carry blood from your feet and legs back to your heart. When you are standing they have to work hard to push the blood back upwards towards your heart against the force of gravity.
Two things help your veins to return the blood up your legs; your vein valves and your leg muscles.
Your vein valves:
- You have valves like small one-way swing doors inside your veins
- As the blood pushes upwards the swing doors open
- If the blood tries to sink back down your leg, the swing doors close to stop the backflow
Your leg muscles:
- Your calf muscles in your legs contract or squeeze around your veins every time you take a step or put your heel to the ground
- This helps the veins to push the blood upwards
The veins in your legs can become enlarged over time.
This can happen if:
- You take very little exercise
- You have a job that involves a lot of standing or sitting
What happens if your veins become enlarged:
- Your veins will find it increasingly difficult to pump your blood up your leg
- As the diameter of your veins increases, the swing doors in your valves will no longer meet in the centre of your vein, so blood can flow back down towards your feet
When this happens, your veins need help. Click here to see if you have signs that your veins need help.