A good discussion about ice water recovery and the scientific theory behind it can be found in this article at Shark Fitness. To be honest, I haven't gone through the sources cited in the article, but some of the logic doesn't make sense at first glance. For example, the article states that ice baths are thought to,
Constrict blood vessels and flush waste products, like lactic acid, out of the affected tissuesHow does that make sense? The ice bath will surely constrict blood vessels, but how does it "flush waste products"? If the blood vessels are constricted, then the blood will have a harder time leaving the tissue. The blood transports the waste through your body, so if it can't leave your muscle tissue, the waste won't leave either.
Discrepancies like this make me very skeptical about the recovery value of ice baths. As the article says, most studies regarding ice water recovery offer inconclusive or contradictory findings. I would really hate to go through all that if it doesn't really help!