Well alot of elite athletes have used simple ice baths after training for years to allow quicker recovery. Alan Johnson 110m hurdler for instance would sit in an ice bath after every workout. Paula Radcliffe uses this method after hard training and races.
The latest development is whole body cryotherapy, where the athlete is exposed to supercooled air at temperatures of -120degreesC for 3-4mins.
This has the following benefits: active peripheral hyperemia (increased bloodflow) of the whole body lasting for over two hours which results in better metabolism and fast elimination of harmful products of metabolism particularly in myoskeletal system, which determines a faster healing of injuries and decreased inflammation.
The England and Scotland Rugby teams have used the Spala resort in Poland after training sessions. ‘The players spend around 2? minutes at a time in the freezing cold, the purpose of which is so that their blood travels from their extremities to their vital organs. Following each cold session, they will take part in a post-cryo work out, letting their blood travel back around their whole body, minus the lactic acid that would have built up in their muscles following training and exercise had they not been in the cold chamber. Their recovery time is much less, meaning they can take part in more training activities, more often during their stay.’
I have actually used an ice bath after running a half marathon and the effect was amazing. I had virtually no DOMS the next day whereas after the preceding half marathon i was sore for about 4 days after!