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Preventing Sports Injuries as an Expat: Strategies for Staying Safe and Healthy While Playing Abroad

Photo by Alexander Redl on Unsplash

One of the best ways to settle into a new home as an expat is to pay attention to your health. Figure out how to eat a healthy diet in your new home and find a way to get physical exercise—not only will it keep you healthy, but these two things are known to reduce stress, which can be invaluable when you’ve made a big change like expatriating.

Playing sports in order to stay active can also be an excellent way to meet new, like-minded people. But when you’re in a less familiar place, it’s essential to stay safe and healthy. Preventing injury is always important, but preventing sports injuries as an expat is even more so, whether you’re playing a high-contact sport or working on your golf swing

Here are some tips to stay safe no matter what sport you’re playing. Preparation is half the battle won, so it’s worth figuring these things out before you even begin playing the sport.

Know the Risks

Don’t think “It’ll never happen to me”. Sports injuries are not uncommon, so it’s important to be prepared for it to happen.

The kind of injury you may experience depends largely on what sport you choose to play. You’re definitely not going to get the same kind of injuries during a game of bowls as you might during a game of rugby!

Based on the sport you’re likely to be playing (or want to try), try and get ahead of things by anticipating what kind of injuries would be likely.

Keep in mind that you may be more at risk of getting hurt if you’ve had specific injuries in the past, you have bone or joint problems, or you don’t have the right gear and equipment for your chosen sport.

Prepare for the Game

It doesn’t matter whether you’re getting ready for a soccer match or preparing to go for a run. Preparation is key. Warming up is the biggest factor in preventing injury, but it’s also something that most people neglect.

Warming up—even if it’s just a few minutes of dynamic stretching—prepares your muscles for the work that’s coming. Neglecting to warm up means your muscles go into the exercise cold, stiff, and unprepared… Which means they’re more at risk of becoming injured.

Also, make sure you’re prepared for potential injuries that you may be prone to. If you know that you have weak ankles, for example, you can get ahead of potential issues by wearing an ankle brace or strapping it for support before the game.

It’s also worth mentioning that part of your preparation should be making sure you have the right equipment for your sport. For example, if you’re wearing the wrong running shoes for your gait, you’ll be at a much higher risk of injuring yourself than if you’re wearing something that fits your feet and matches your gait.

Play Safe

We know that in the middle of a game, things can get crazy. Adrenaline is pumping, you’re in the middle of the action, and it’s easy for things to get out of hand. This is why playing it safe is important.

We’re talking specifically in terms of rules here. When it comes to strategy, take risks! But when it comes to playing by the rules, remember that they’re there for a reason. The rules are partly there for fairness, partly there for safety.

Most sporting events have medics on-site—in fact, most of them are legally required to. But it’s a good idea to double-check this before you get into the game—do they have medics nearby who can help if you get injured?

If not, you can still take part, but it’s a good idea to prepare a little beforehand. Make sure you know the nearest medical facility, a phone number to call in case of emergencies, and how you’re going to get there if you do get injured. A bit of prep work can make a huge difference.

Rest and Recover

Don’t assume the only time you need to rest is when you’re actually injured. Taking time out for rest and recovery during your week is essential for injury prevention. Whatever sport or training you’re doing, you should be getting at least one full day of rest per week.

Rest means no physical activity other than your every day walking around. We also advise splitting your physical activity up into a few different things, so you can target different muscles and give others time to rest. For example, running and rowing, weightlifting and cycling, and so on.

Other rest and recovery measures could include foam rolling, percussive massage, using compression gear, and heat or ice therapy. Also, make sure you’re eating well, staying hydrated, and getting quality sleep—they play more of a role in recovery than you think!

Health Insurance for Expats

We highly recommend investing in health insurance that’s specifically focused on expats. Companies like Foyer Global Health understand the expat life and all that goes with it, so they’re a step up from your regular health insurance.

You never know when an injury (or illness) is going to strike. Be prepared! Investing in quality health insurance could be the best thing you do as an expat, whether you’re planning on diving into a high-action sport or simply working on your golf game.


Living the expat life can be exciting. So many new things to experience, places to see, and people to meet. Sport is one of the best ways to get into a new hobby, meet new people, and have fun in a new place. But if you aren’t careful about it, sport is also one of the easiest ways to find yourself in an unfamiliar emergency room.

Having excellent expat health insurance gives you peace of mind. You can get involved, have fun, and do something you love without worrying about what’s going to happen if you get injured. Trust me, if you’re living in an unfamiliar place, it’s one of the best investments you can make. Not just for sports, but for life!

About the Author

Jordan Fuller is a retired golfer and businessman. When he’s not on the course working on his own game or mentoring young golfers, he writes in-depth articles for his website,