How the Body Moves Blood from the
Legs to the Heart


The ability to move blood against the force of gravity from the legs up to the heart is one of nature's miracles. The heart pumps fresh blood out to the body through the arteries. Veins carry the used blood back to the heart. Down in the lower legs, the heart tries to pump the blood up through the veins, but it is an uphill battle. Gravity pulls the blood right back down. That is not good because then pressure builds up inside the veins and begins to damage the vein walls. This can lead to varicose veins, edema, pigmentation, and ulcers.

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Normal Valves


Stop the flow of blood down the leg by use of tightly closing valve flaps

Abnormal Valves


Valves can't stop the blood from falling back down the leg

Vein Illustration

The Calf Muscle Pump


It is the job of the calf muscle pump to help the heart with the heavy lifting. When we walk, the powerful calf muscles squeeze the veins. Acting like a second heart, the force pushes blood up and out of the legs with every step.


To keep the blood from going back down the legs, there are tiny one-way valves inside the veins that let blood go up toward the heart, but flap shut so blood can't go the wrong way.