Research published in The Journal of Physiology suggests that ice baths aren't beneficial in repairing muscle and building muscle strength over time.
While findings don't deny that ice baths can help treat injuries like sprained ankles by reducing blood flow, swelling and inflammation of tissues, scientists from Maastricht University found that it can hinder the formation of new proteins in the body, crucial for repairing and building muscle.
To come to their conclusion, researchers used stable isotope tracers and muscle biopsies to measure the generation of new protein in muscles. They had participants do resistance training for two weeks - seven leg sessions.
After each session, volunteers put one leg in cold water (8 degrees celsius) while leaving the other leg emerged. The team of authors found a decrease in the amount of protein generation in the immersed leg.
“Everyone exercising, whether they be weekend warriors or elite athletes, wants to get the most out of their workouts," says study author Cas Fuchs.
“Our research doesn’t discount cold water immersion altogether but does suggest that if the athlete aims to repair and/or build their muscle, perhaps they should reconsider using ice baths.”
While, it might not get you jacked, cold water immersion is still a viable treatment for DOMs. If you are struggling with an injury, consult with a medical professional of course.