FORT BENNING, Ga. - It was during his second mobilization that SFC Dale Kessler, a Reserve Soldier with the 198th Infantry Brigade, was injured. After finishing his term as a drill sergeant on Sand Hill, Kessler relocated to the Warrior Transition Battalion. While there, he found an unexpected treatment that worked wonders for his strained back, thanks to a massage therapy demonstration at the battalion Feb. 22.
"It was free food and a chance to find out if there was anything that could help me. So I signed up, and I went," Kessler said.
"He had this, 'I'm not quite sure' look on his face," said Traci Kuechenmeister of Green Sage Wellness, who led the free clinic, "but there was also this silent message of 'I really do need help.' And I just felt drawn to that."
She chose Kessler to help with her demonstration of craniosacral therapy, a modality that involves restoring balance to the craniosacral system.
"I got lucky," Kessler said. "I'd always had lower back problems, and from that first session, it was just lifted from me, and it hasn't hurt since.
"I used to have trouble standing for long periods of time, and I don't have that right now. I've had a pinched nerve, and I haven't had that come back either."
Kessler said he never thought any type of massage therapy would work for him, but the results with craniosacral have been "fantastic." He has had regular sessions with Kuechenmeister since the demonstration to help continue his healing.
"She's got magic fingers," he said. "It's hard to explain. She places her hands along your spine and then you feel the sensation of it moving back and forth ... your body relaxing all at one time. You feel the pain there and then it's gone."
Kessler outprocessed from the battalion last week and is ready to return to his unit in Michigan. He recommends massage therapy to anyone looking for physical healing, especially military leaders who need to stay physically fit.
"If you don't take care of yourself, then you're not going to be able to follow through on the mission," he said. "The relief I got in one hour's visit ... that's a short time to have to spend to take care of yourself so you can continue on."
Kuechenmeister began her career in massage therapy 12 years ago, but craniosacral therapy, which she learned four years ago, has become her passion.
"I have this deep passion for assisting other people in their self-correcting process - a little bit of a different take on therapy," she said. "Many therapists have a routine they perform, and enough people have told them their massage routine is a good one. But there's something different about following what a person's body needs and adapting and customizing your treatment to what they need. It's much like getting a massage from the inside out."
Craniosacral therapy is one of many services offered by Green Sage Wellness, which now has four therapists working at Smith Fitness Center. The contract was awarded in March, and the new massage therapy center started taking appointments last week.
"About 40 percent of our clientele (at) our location in north Columbus is military or their families ... so moving down to this location at the Smith Fitness Center has felt natural to all of us," Kuechenmeister said. "It's just like having a fourth treatment room."
Because each of the therapists are trained in specific modalities, the center is able to offer nearly a dozen different services, including sports performance massage, deep tissue massage, craniosacral therapy, and prenatal massage.
All services include a personalized assessment and one-hour treatment session for $80, except prenatal massage, which costs $50.
Appointment hours are from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday. To schedule an appointment, call 706-545-7128.
For more information about Green Sage Wellness, visit www.greensagewellness.com.