The rule of thumb we follow in Chi Running regarding foot wear is to run (or walk) in as minimal as YOU can get away with. If you have been wearing supportive well padded shoes, going to barefoot or super minimal right away can lead to pain and injury. Also, trying to do too much too soon when switching to minimal shoes can stop you in your tracks, literally!
You need to allow time to develop the intrinsic muscles in the foot, as well as proprioception (awareness of were your feet are in space). A padded supportive shoe takes care of that for you, much like wearing a cast on a broken limb. When you have the cast removed, you spend some time developing range of motion and relearning or tuning up some fine motor skills. Same with the switch to barefoot or minimal footwear.
The nice thing about the more minimal footwear is the feedback from the ground is more immediate, and if your proprioceptive awareness is developed enough, you can respond to that in a constructive way. But if it isn’t there, you may make some compensations that could cost you in the long run. Meet your body where it’s at, follow the law of Gradual Progress, and you’ll come out much better.
Let us know if that helps answer your question.
Certified Chi Running and Chi Walking Master Instructor