March 16, 2013
Captain America Makes a Comeback
By Eddie Malone

"Being forced to start over again really gave me valuable time to step back and work on my form."

At the announcement of 13.1, Chase Ingraham laughed and said to himself, “Of course.” Ingraham learned the workout before the live announcement, as he is an announcer for CrossFit during the Games season.

A year ago, the 2010 CrossFit Games veteran was having surgery on his right shoulder to address tears in his bicep tendon and rotator cuff. The burpees and snatching in 13.1 would certainly test the stability of his shoulder.  

After missing last year’s competition season, Ingraham admits coming back from injury was far from easy. There were even moments when he feared he may never compete in CrossFit again. 

“To say that there was never a doubt in my mind that I would compete again would be a total lie,” he says. “During the rehab process, it was a constant struggle each and every day. I will be honest, up until three weeks ago I still had some lingering issues and doubts about it. It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions for sure, but deep down, I always knew that I would get another shot to compete again.”

Ingraham credits a comprehensive rehabilitation and training program designed by Mike and Dave Tillman of CrossFit Cedar Park. Before seeking their help, he did four months of rehab at a clinic where the therapist ominously said he would never do push-ups again.

“I told (Mike and Dave) what the old clinic said about push-ups and they just laughed at it,” Ingraham says. “I guess I'm laughing, too, since I just PR’d my jerk by 15 lb.”

On the day of his return to competitive action, the atmosphere at his affiliate — perennial powerhouse CrossFit Dallas Central — was electric, with hundreds of friends and teammates in attendance telling him “good luck” and “welcome back.” Ingraham admits to feeling nervous and excited. His 13.1 strategy involved going all out while committing to good form.

The man known as “Captain America” in the CrossFit community snatched 165 lb. 22 times en route to a score of 172, good enough for 34th place in the South Central Region. Not bad for a guy out of CrossFit for the past year.

Ingraham was more than happy with the feel and performance of his shoulder. However, as a competitor with a burning desire to return to the CrossFit Games, he feels he could have done better.     

“I was more happy that my shoulder held up to the challenge than I was my own performance,” he says. “I didn’t set the world on fire with my score or anything, but the most important part to me is that I felt normal. I can’t begin to describe how happy I was just to feel normal again, no fear, no pain, just normal. It was uplifting and has given me great confidence moving forward.”

Captain America was officially back.

Ingraham, a self-professed comic book nerd, laughs whenever someone calls him by his nickname. He earned the moniker at his first local CrossFit competition in Houston where, on a whim, he wore a Captain America T-shirt in the final event. After winning the whole thing, he was called to the podium by an announcer with a sense of humor.

“When they announced the podium finishers they called me Captain America instead of my actual name, and it has stuck with me ever since,” he says.

Whatever happens this season, Ingraham has emerged with a new outlook on “movement and mobility.” He doesn’t blame CrossFit for his shoulder problems. Instead, he cites the cumulative wear and tear of a life spent playing sports. Before discovering CrossFit, he swam and played water polo for more than 10 years.      

To guard against re-injury, Ingraham has incorporated pre-hab exercises to strengthen the smaller stabilizer muscles in his shoulders. He also devotes significant time to mobility exercises to ensure good range of motion

“Being forced to start over again really gave me valuable time to step back and work on my form,” he says. “I think there is such a great deal of pressure for athletes to perform these days, they feel they don’t have time to take three or four months away from high-intensity training to work on technique and form. For me, I didn’t have a choice, so it’s really helped my progression from surgery to this point now.”

At the time of publication, Ingraham logged 318 reps on Open Workout 13.2 and is sitting in 12th in the South Central Region.

With three Open Workouts remaining, Ingraham has an eye on Regionals where Dave Castro’s programming will call on athletes to perform at a superhuman level. Given his pedigree, as well as his own physical and mental progress over the past year, expect Captain America to make another run at the Games.