In the past, after any long run of 18 or more, I’d take a cold water bath (too wimpy to go all the way to ice!). I swore by them for recovery. Only 10 minutes would be enough to make a difference for me.
This year, however, I haven’t been able to coax myself into the cold water; not sure why, but I can’t seem to handle them anymore. The interesting thing? I don’t notice any difference. In fact, I’ve mentioned before that I am recovering faster/better than ever before this year, which I chalk up to better running form. Whatever the case, it turns out that ice baths may not be the cure all for recovery that many of us think anyhow.
I did a little research into it, and the evidence on ice baths is conflicting at best. Some, like this one, show that the cold water does a great job at jump starting your muscles recovery process. Other studies, however, claim that ice baths do no good and in fact, might even stall recovery.
Hard to know what do do, but I’d stick with this–if it seems to work for you, do it. If not, then don’t put yourself through the torture just because you think it’s the right thing. I can’t say that I miss my time in the cold water this year!
Do you take ice/cold water baths after long runs?