Do ice baths help to boost the body’s recovery processes and prevent injury?
Research suggests that ice baths are better than doing nothing but no better than other methods of recovery like compression stockings, stretching or even taking a couple of ibuprofen. The prevention of DOMS (Delayed onset muscle soreness) is improved with ice baths. Some studies showed that inflammation within the muscles was not reduced but leg soreness and fatigue was reduced by cold water immersion.
Although research does not specifically imply that ice baths have any major affect on improving recovery I am a firm believer if something makes you feel better do it anyway. Athletes are always looking for an advantage and even if having an ice bath provides a placebo affect, its free and easy to facilittate so its probably worth doing.
If you can’t get to an ice bath, standing in a cold pool or the ocean for 8-10minutes will still provide some benefits.
- 1-2 minutes submersed with 30seconds – 1minute out. 3-5 times
- Water temperature – 10-12C
Conclusion: Anything that has the benefit or perceived benefit of recovering faster after hard training sessions is worth investing a little time in.