I am a huge advocate of ice rather than heat, especially for sports injuries.
Heat depends on a cutaneous relax to relax the muscles and inhibit pain. The problem is that as the skin heats up., the nerves accommodate to the sensation and the nerve receptors stop firing which means that in order for the inhibition to continue, the temperature has to get hotter and hotter. Also as soon as you remove the heat, he inhibition stops. Period.
On the other hand, ice decreases swelling, inhibits muscle guarding, and reduces pain in a manner that lasts for up to two hours (assuming a deep icing).
The trouble with ice is that our freezers are usually colder than freezing and we are at risk for a frost bite injury secondary to an ice burn. this makes it important to use ice and water together.
I also advocate ice after exercise. Especially for runners who I often ask to take an ice bath following a long run. One excellent ideas that I have seen applied is to use a large garbage can filled with ice and water to stand in to cool the legs joints and muscles.
I also recommend Active Wrap products for post exercise cooling off. These are form fit products for various body parts that you can easily wrap around your heated muscles and joints. What i like about these products is that you can target a particular joint and have a spare ice pack available to keep the area cool for extended periods while you are actively moving around.
This is the Active Wrap elbow product as an example.
In our clinic, we use crushed ice out of a freezer plus a splash of water in a plastic bag that we wrap around the part. Of course, the patient is pretty much stuck on one place for 30 minutes in that case, which makes the Active Wrap product appealing.