In order to move blood up the legs toward the heart, the veins and leg muscles work together against gravity. Along the inside walls of veins are flaps called valves that work like one-way doors. When the leg muscles contract, the valve opens and blood is pushed up deep veins. When the muscle relaxes, the valve closes and prevents blood from traveling back down the vein. Healthy veins have strong valves that keep blood moving in the correct direction.
Three types of veins carry blood from your legs to your heart
- Superficial veins are located just beneath the skin and move blood from the skin and surface tissues. They drain into the deep veins.
- Deep veins are located in the muscles of the legs and carry 80-90% of blood back to the heart via the inferior vena cava.
- Perforating veins connect superficial veins and deep veins.