Health Check: Employees at RI company enjoy rolfing

Greg Knight massages a worker at the East Providence company Embolden. The massage therapy is called rolfing.

Anne-Marie Harrington founded her Pawtucket-based company, Embolden, 16 years ago.

"We're an online communications firm so we have clients all over the country. We provide online community strategy, website development, custom web application development, e-marketing, mostly for professional services, nonprofits and foundations," Harrington said.

In her 16 years, her company has grown to 20 employees.

"They work really hard. They're sitting at their desks all day long," Harrington said.

And that can take a toll.

So, after giving a type of massage known as rolfing a try four years ago, Harrington hired advanced rolfer, Greg Knight, to provide this service to her employees. He's at the company once a month for three hours.

"It increases productivity for sure and relaxation, and boosts morale big time," Harrington said.

The morale boost is because it's free to her employees. The other benefits are because of what rolfing does.

"Rolfing is a unique form of body therapy and movement education, and it treats and changes the patterns in the body that create postural problems and pain," Knight said. "Rolfing's not about relaxing the muscles. It's not about changing the muscles, although sometimes that happens, muscles will change. Often it's about working in the layers between the muscles with the connective tissues and fascia that give your body its shape and form."

Justin Davenport, who works in the IT department, says his shoulder was bothering him. He always signs up for the service.

"I lift weights. I play a lot of softball. So it's very helpful keeping my body loose and in shape," he said.

But rolfing has a cumulative effect, and that's why Knight returns monthly.

"It's really like changing the foundation of your house. Your body's a physical structure and you're altering that so doing it just once does a little bit, doing a few together you're going to get a lot more done," he said.

A large employer in Minnesota put rolfing to the test a number of years ago, offering it to its employees. And over time it saw a major decline in worker's compensation claims, many of them due to carpal tunnel syndrome.