Like a lot of runners, after long runs I love to take cold showers or take an ice bath. It feels so soothing, I have long thought it must be doing something to help my legs recover from very long runs. But what does the science have to say about this?
According to Sports Physicians ACT, Deakin, Australia, in Ice-water immersion and delayed-onset muscle soreness: a randomised controlled trial:
The protocol of ice-water immersion used in this study was ineffectual in minimising markers of DOMS(delated onset muscle soreness) in untrained individuals. This study challenges the wide use of this intervention as a recovery strategy by athletes.
I will still take cold shower and use ice after long runs, even if the science doesn’t indicate it promotes recovery. It still feels good and it does help lower my body temperature a bit. Note that this study did not look into using ice to help treat acute injuries, which is completely different. Continue to use ice for certain injuries when indicated.