It does not work.
All the rage it may be today, yet wise it is not. Much of the thinking surrounding cold water immersion is magical and almost spiritual.
It does not cause fat loss, in fact, being in cold water, can cause you to be hungry later, another reason that swimming is not always the optimal choice of cardio for fat loss candidate.
The ice is also not good for muscle growth. I’m not gonna say that it’s all that damaging to the muscle. However, it is certainly not beneficial and not really worth your time.
The science of rice, rest, ice compression, elevation, is outdated when it comes to the eyes. The industry of physical therapy moved away from RICE about 8 to 10 years ago, yet for some reason, fitness influencers and professionals all over the world are doing ice baths. If you run a gym or a CrossFit, it is (in a sense) a great investment to get ice baths because people will do it, put it on their Instagram and it will help, yet It won’t help anybody’s health.
The only instance in which icing is appropriate, is for athletes, who have to play back to back. For example, Tour de France athletes can benefit from icing after a hard day in terms of reducing soreness so that they can go back and hammer. However, that’s only applicable in race situations, and it’s understood that they are not improving their capacity during race situation. They are merely surviving. During the off-season when they are improving the capacity of their muscles, they will never ice.
The same would go for a basketball player who is playing back to back. They can ice during the season to, blunt the soreness, however, that’s not actually helping the muscle, it’s merely masking the pain so that they can survive. They’re incredibly demanding sport.
If you are in a incredibly demanding sport, which I doubt any adult is, then they can use ice to blunt soreness. However, do not deceive yourself. You are not improving the muscle with the icing.
For the best optimal muscle results, let the soreness run its course.