It’s interesting that two opposites can have a similar effect on the body. Hot and cold therapy is equally valuable for sports first aid. Whilst they are both important aspects of first aid, the effect of heat and cold, as you might imagine, is notably different, i.e. used to treat different kinds of injuries.
Hot is a valuable tool for first aid professionals. It is used often on longer term injuries, and is great for providing pain relief. Part of the role of a bandage can be to keep an injury, e.g. a muscle strain, warm, this makes it less painful and can even increase blood-flow. Athletes endeavour to maintain or increase their temperature prior to performance by “warming up.” Essentially, this is about increasing blood flow to the muscles, which should aid performance and prevent injury while playing.
Cold works differently, although its usage is very valuable across a range of sports. Cold works great in the immediate aftermath of an injury to decrease swelling and bleeding. An instant ice pack can very effectively be applied to an injury, limiting its mal-effects. Some athletes use icy cold water baths after the performance to aid their muscle recovery.
Hot and cold are two friends of first aid. The application of cold especially requires special ice packs, which make a valuable part of any sports first aid kit.