Working out and doing athletics is wonderful but when you sustain an painful injury it is often quite difficult to determine whether heat or ice treatment will do the best job in relieving pain, muscle spasms and swelling. The use of heat may prolong an injury and increase inflammation but if used correctly will accelerate healing and quicken a recovery from an injury.
First off ice treatment aids in reducing the flow of blood to the injured area and is very helpful in the first 72 hours as it helps in reducing the amount of swelling and inflammation that accumulates around the injury and should be used throughout the inflammatory phase. You can ice the area for 20 minutes every 2 hours and can be done with and ice pack or crushed ice wrapped in a damp towel.
Do not use any form of heat treatment during this phase including all alcohol and massage to the affected region because these will increase the flow of blood to the area and cause more inflammation. Those who have circulatory issues or are sensitive to cold should be mindful when using ice treatment.
The use of heat treatment will increase the flow of blood to the injured area and is beneficial after the inflammatory phase of 72 hours as this increase in blood flow also brings lots of great and much needed nutrients and most importantly oxygen to the injured area and thus an increase in the speed in which the injury will heal. This heat will also reduce pain and muscles spams and help in reducing joint stiffness and muscle tightness.
Always be mindful that a visit to the local clinic would also be smart as a physician will be able to give you further treatment in case the injury is serious.