How the Eagles' Lane Johnson draws on his mother's strength: 'We've been through the road of hard knocks'

Jeff McLane, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Football

Lane Johnson stands in the middle of his “Bro Barn,” hooked up to an ARPWave machine like some modern-day Bionic Man, except wires are attached to pads around his core rather than his upper body.

“I feel like I have a lightning bolt going through my hips,” Johnson says, explaining the sensation.

The Eagles tackle is three days removed from playing through a torn groin tendon for a second straight game and he’s receiving treatment for the injury under the supervision of personal trainer Gabe Rangel.

The ARP — acronym for accelerated recovery performance — uses a low-voltage electrical current to stimulate the nervous system and reduce scar tissue. Johnson is connected to the machine for only 15 minutes, but as Rangel increases the frequency, his breathing becomes heavier.

The Friday before the NFC championship game, they reached 67 out of a maximum of 100 on the gauge.

“Let’s go to 70,” Johnson says 11 days before the Eagles play in Super Bowl LVII.


Through incremental knee lifts, the 6-foot-6, 325-pounder is upright, but wobbling as the seconds tick down.

“See how it’s pulling him in different directions,” Rangel said, “and he’s trying to stay centered?”

There’s discomfort, but it’s momentary, and he feels more nimble afterward. The 32-year-old is still freakishly athletic. But it takes a certain amount of mental strength to endure the ARP therapy, Johnson later explained, and to a greater extent, playing through his current injury.

It can be cliche to glorify athletes who continue on despite physical duress. Johnson has overcome various setbacks in his 10-year NFL career. But it may be his persistence in the face of mental health struggles, and an openness in doing so, that has spoken most to his resiliency.


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