Background It is widely accepted that venous valves play an important role in reducing the pressure applied to the veins under dynamic load conditions, such as the act of standing up. This understanding is, however, qualitative and not quantitative. The purpose of this paper is to quantify the pressure shielding effect and its variation with a number of system parameters. Methods A one-dimensional mathematical model of a collapsible tube, with the facility to introduce valves at any position, was used. The model has been exercised to compute transient pressure and flow distributions along the vein under the action of an imposed gravity field (standing up). Results A quantitative evaluation of the effect of a valve, or valves, on the shielding of the vein from peak transient pressure effects was undertaken. The model used reported that a valve decreased the dynamic pressures applied to a vein when gravity is applied by a considerable amount. Conclusion The model has the potential to increase understanding of dynamic physical effects in venous physiology, and ultimately might be used as part of an interventional planning tool.